History of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS)
This webpage retains important historical information regarding the RFCS program. This includes internal and independent reviews that have been conducted over the years to ensure the program remained fit for purpose and continued to meet the changing needs of clients.
The RFCS program was created in 1986, in response to increased financial difficulties across the rural sector due to high interest rates, the deregulation of the financial sector, drought and depressed commodity prices. It was initially intended as a short-term assistance measure, but has continued in several forms to the present day.
The RFCS provides free financial counselling services nationally to farmers, fishers, foresters and small related businesses suffering financial hardship. The RFCS is locally focussed and trusted in regional communities.
The National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA) is responsible for the RFCS program from July 2021. Previously, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) was responsible for the program.
Reviews of the RFCS
2019 internal review of the RFCS Program
In 2019, the department undertook an internal review into the 2016 to 2020 RFCS Program. The review was informed by a significant public consultation process, interacting with approximately 150 stakeholders. The internal report was released in October 2019.
|Internal review of the 2016—2020 Rural Financial Counselling Service Program PDF||59||1.1 MB|
|Internal review of the 2016—2020 Rural Financial Counselling Service Program DOCX||59||895 KB|
2014 Review of the RFCS Program
In May 2014, the Minister for Agriculture commissioned the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) with undertaking a review of the RFCS Program. NRAC’s report was released by the Minister for Agriculture on 10 November 2014.
|NRAC report on the review of the RFCS program PDF||103||3.5 MB|
|NRAC report on the review of the RFCS program DOC||103||921 KB|
Overarching Report of the 2012 RFCS Service Provider Performance Audits
In 2012, PricewaterhouseCoopers undertook performance audits of the 14 organisations delivering rural financial counselling services. Below is a summary of the audit findings and recommendations.
|Performance Assessment of Rural Financial Counselling Service Providers PDF||30||1.3 MB|
|Performance Assessment of Rural Financial Counselling Service Providers DOC||30||1.7 MB|
2009 Evaluation of the RFCS Program
In 2009 the department commissioned the Charles Sturt University to conduct an online survey of RFCS clients.
The aim of the survey was to evaluate client satisfaction with the RFCS, the appropriateness of referrals to other professional services, the extent of improvement in clients’ situations and changes in management practices as a result of interaction with the RFCS.
|The Rural Financial Counselling Service: an Evaluation PDF||102||719 KB|
Overarching Report of the 2007 RFCS Service Provider Performance Audits
In 2007, WalterTurnbull undertook performance audits of the 16 organisations delivering rural financial counselling services. Below is a summary of the audit findings and recommendations.
|Overarching Report of the 2007 RFCS Service Provider Performance Audits PDF||17||111 KB|
|Overarching Report of the 2007 RFCS Service Provider Performance Audits DOC||17||163 KB|
2004 Review of the RFCS Program
In 2004, that National Rural Advisory Council reviewed the RFCS Program. The complete report can be downloaded as one PDF or individual sections can be downloaded.
Sections of the report:
|Contents and executive summary PDF||17||216 KB|
|Chapters 1-8 PDF||133||850 KB|
|Appendixes 1-4 PDF||22||147 KB|
|Appendix 5: Map of socio-economic disadvantage by region PDF||2||2.3 MB|
|Appendixes 6-17 PDF||56||1.1 MB|
|Appendixes 18-19 PDF||6||1.5 MB|
|Appendixes 20-22 PDF||15||852 KB|
|Acronyms and abbreviations PDF||4||59 KB|
The Way Forward
This report includes the executive summary from the 2004 Review report (above), the terms of reference for the review committee and the aims, objectives, outcomes and key principles for an enhanced RFCS Program.
2003 Acumen Alliance Performance Review and Audit
In 2003, Acumen Alliance completed a performance review of 24 rural financial counselling services. Below is a summary containing the publicly available information, of the review's findings and recommendations.
2000 Evaluation of the Rural Communities Program (RCP)
In 2000, the Social Sciences Centre of the Bureau of Rural Sciences (now ABARES) was commissioned to evaluate the RCP. The evaluation examined program performance and future directions and options for change.
|2000 Evaluation of the Rural Communities Program PDF||157||3.2 MB|
|2000 Evaluation of the Rural Communities Program DOC||157||2.5 MB|
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