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Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland (RFCS-SQ) provides free, impartial, confidential and responsive rural financial counselling services across Southern Queensland.
The RFCS Programme in Queensland is funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments.
NEWS
BUSHFIRE ASSISTANCE GRANTS
PRESS RELEASE

Monday, 24 February 2020
Joint media release with the Hon Mark Furner MP – Bushfire assistance grants available to more Queensland primary producers

​Impacted farmers in an additional 11 local government areas across Southern and Eastern Queensland will now have access to grants of up to $75,000 to assist with their bushfire recovery.
The grants are being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) and are available to bushfire-impacted farmers in the Bundaberg, Gladstone, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Noosa, Scenic Rim, Somerset, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, and Toowoomba local government areas.
Federal Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said the grants would help impacted farmers get their businesses and livelihoods back on track.
“These fires came on the back of prolonged drought and have been a devastating blow to farmers that have held on for so long,
“Helping farmers get back on their feet also helps communities get back on theirs.
“We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with impacted communities to ensure they receive the best possible support.”
Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the grants would provide certainty for farmers struggling to make ends meet.
“These grants are a vote of confidence in our primary producers and demonstrate their importance in our regional communities,
“The Queensland and Commonwealth governments will continue to work together to help our farmers who are doing it tough as a result of these fires.
“I encourage all impacted farmers in the activated regions to apply.”
For more information on the eligibility for primary producer grants contact the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority on 1800 623 946 or
click here

You can also
DROUGHT SUPPORT ANNOUNCED FOR
COMMERCIAL BEEKEEPERS

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner
Monday, February 10, 2020
$1 million package putting the buzz back in beekeeping industry
A $1 million emergency package will provide much needed relief for Queensland’s beekeeping industry.
The package will fund the waiver of this year’s permit fees for accessing state forests and protected areas, as well as free access to a large stockpile of bee feed sugar.
The stockpile is being readied as emergency feedstock for the industry, which has had to try and cope with intense drought and recent bushfires.
Queensland honey production was down 30% last year and could drop to 70% this year despite recent rains. Production is predicted to remain low for the foreseeable future.
As well as producing honey, the beekeeping industry provides vital pollination services that are critical to Queensland’s broader horticulture industry.
The difficult conditions for beekeepers, caused by drought, have been made worse by bushfires.
Minister for Agriculture Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said up to a $1 million has been allocated for this urgent drought assistance measure.
“Queensland’s horticulture is very dependent on having a thriving and viable honey bee sector,” Mr Furner said.
“Worker bees are our farmers’ great friends, pollinating crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars across the state.
“Avocadoes, macadamias, blueberries, melons, and almonds are just a few of the large commercial crops that depend on bee pollination to ensure a marketable crop,” Mr Furner said.
“The Drought Relief Assistance Scheme has already paid out over $10 million dollars in the 2019/20 financial year and recent levels of demand show no sign of decreasing.”
There are 79,000 commercial hives in Queensland and 45,000 are used for pollination.
The bee feed sugar stockpile will be distributed to QLD beekeepers in need from Hive & Wellness’ (formerly Capilano Honey) Richlands headquarters in outer western Brisbane.
Hive & Wellness chief operating officer Ben McKee welcomed the Queensland Government assistance package and said it came at a time of great need.
“This critical package will support Queensland beekeepers and their bees until the bushland recovers and can properly sustain hives again, leading to a return to regular honey production and pollination services,” Dr McKee said.
“It is great to see the Queensland Government showing leadership and investing in the state’s beekeeping and agricultural future.
“We are grateful for the time they have spent engaging with us and the Queensland Beekeepers Association to understand the issues and the kind of help required.”
Queensland Beekeepers Association state secretary Jo Martin applauded the support package.
“This announcement will provide direct and immediate financial relief to our hardworking Queensland beekeepers,” Ms Martin said.
“These site fee waivers will ensure the security of beekeeping sites, which beekeepers use as a healthy haven between pollination services.”
LOW INTEREST LOANS
FOR DROUGHT, FARM INVESTMENT AND FLOOD REBUILDING

AGBIZ DROUGHT LOANS
Supporting Regional Australians to take control of their businesses through the drought
  • No Fees
  • Up to $500,000
  • 2 years interest free
  • 3 years interest only
  • 5 years principal and interest
Who can apply?
Small business that supply farm businesses in an eligible area

Use this loan to:
  • Manage essential operating costs
  • Refinance
DROUGHT LOANS
Prepare for, manage through or recover from drought
  • No fees
  • Up to $2 million
  • 2 years interest free
  • 3 years interest only
  • 5 years principal and interest
  • Apply anytime
Who can apply?
Owners of farm businesses who are:
  • in need of financial help
  • financially viable in the long term
Use this loan to:
  • prepare your farm business for drought
  • refinance existing debt
  • access new debt for operating expenses and capital
Find out more about Drought Loans

FARM INVESTMENT LOANS
Improve the strength, resilience and profitability of your farm business
  • No fees
  • 3.11% variable interest rate
  • Up to $2 million
  • Apply anytime
Who can apply?
Owners of farms and related farm businesses who:
  • are in need of financial help
  • mainly sell (or plan to sell) products into supply chains that are interstate or outside Australia
  • are financially viable in the long term
Use this loan to:
  • improve long-term strength, resilience and profitability
  • diversify your markets
  • refinance existing debt
  • prepare for, manage through or recover from drought
  • access new debt for operating expenses and capital
Find our more about Farm Investment Loans

AGBUILD LOAN (NORTH QLD FLOOD)
Disaster recovery loan to help flood affected Qld farmers restock, replant and recover
  • No fees
  • Concessional interest rate
  • Up to $5 million
  • Available until 3 June 2020
Who can apply?
  • Farmers directly impacted by the North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough from 25 January to 14 February 2019 (North Qld flood)
  • Farmers located in eligible Local Government Areas
Use this loan to:
  • Replant, restock and recover after the North Qld flood
  • Restore or replace on-farm infrastructure lost or damaged because of the North Qld flood
  • Pay for operating expenses relating to damage from the North Qld Flood
  • Refinance existing debt
  • As the co-contribution to access QRIDA's North Queensland Restocking, Replanting & On-Farm Infrastructure Grants
  • Refinance existing debt
 
AROUND THE TRAPS
John Metilli, QRIDA, John Lacey, RFCSSQ and Kristie Clark, DAF

GOVERNMENT DROUGHT ASSISTANCE ROADSHOW

RFCSSQ counsellors have been all over the region this month.
What started as a Drought Assistance roadshow in some cases became a drought recovery roadshow.

The service held 11 Government Assistance information days in February at:
  • Wowan
  • Yeppoon
  • Calliope
  • Miles
  • Mungallala
  • Bollon
  • St George
  • Emerald
  • Gympie
  • Blackbutt
  • Goomeri
The events attracted anywhere from 5 attendees to 20 with robust discussions and plenty follow up work generated for counsellors.

And the show goes on in March!
We'll be visiting:
  • Boonah
  • Rosewood
  • Toogoolawah
  • Mungindi
  • pittsworth
  • Quilpie
  • Bunnamulla
  • Thargomindah
  • Gin Gin
  • Childers
  • Monto
  • Warwick
(L to R) Outreach Communication Officer, Sharon Purcell, RFCSSQ Small Business counsellor, Brian Wippell and RFCSSQ Rural counsellor, Nicole Gamack.

DIRRANBANDI BBQ AT THE PUB

Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ organised a BBQ at the Dirranbandi Pub to ensure local drought affected primary producers and small business owners were aware of the support offered by the service and to meet some of the locals.

Fifty people headed to the pub on Friday the 21st of February and enjoyed live music by Toowoomba Country Music artist, Amanda Faulkner and a free BBQ using locally purchased produce.
Small Business counsellor, Brian Wippell commented, "We got to meet a lot of new faces which was good and everyone seemed to enjoy their meal and entertainment in amongst chatting."
"Exactly what the night was about."

Disappointingly the RFCSSQ didn't bring the rain but the resilience of this community cannot be underestimated.
They are now dealing with flooding that will certainly fill water holes but won't grow grass or build a moisture profile for crops.
RFCSSQ remains dedicated to assisting producers who need support and referrals to government programs and funds.


FACES ON THE NIGHT

 
 
 
OFF TO BRISBANE...
Chief Executive Officers from ten Rural Financial Counselling Services from across Australia met in Brisbane for a Network meeting.

RURAL FINANCIAL COUNSELLING SERVICE
NETWORK MEETING


RFCSSQ CEO, Jenny Whip and Outreach Communications Officer, Sharon Purcell were in Brisbane this month for a meeting of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) Network.
Our Southern Queensland region is working with RFCS providers in North Queensland, NSW, VIC, SA and WA to ensure the importance of the service is recognised and secured for the long term.
The media and communications team are formulating key messages for the service to ensure there is consistency across the country.

Pictured below:
Left: The Media and Communications team for the Network including RFCSSQ's Sharon Purcell (Centre L)
Right: CEO, Jenny Whip and Outreach Communications Officer, Sharon Purcell represented the RFCSSQ at the meeting.

           
RFCSSQ Counsellors, Bronwyn Schultz and Dale Murphy are pictured with guest speakers from NAB, Marg Baldwin (Left) and Bruce Starkey (2nd from Right)

RFCSSQ STAFF TRAINING
The RFCSSQ team headed to Brisbane for the annual staff conference this month.
The agenda included:
  • Developing Counsellor Skills
  • Diploma of Financial Counselling study
  • Counsellor Self-care and well being
  • CEO Update by Jenny Whip
  • NAB, ANZ, Suncorp and CBA market outlook sessions
  • Farm & Rural Legal Aid Update
  • QRIDA Update
  • QDAF Update including Biosecurity, Animal Welfare and Small Landholder Livestock response
  • Regional Investment Corporation Update
  • Excel spreadsheet training
         
LEFT: CEO, Jenny Whip with QDAF staff, Ted Parish and David McNabb.
CENTRE: Roma based RFCSSQ Counsellor, Nathan Wichlacz (Left) with Legal Aid representatives, Loretta Kreet and Denis McMahon
RIGHT: Counsellor well being presenter, Stuart Rennie with Charleville RFCSSQ Counsellor, Angie Bowden
           
UPCOMING EVENTS

RFCSSQ GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE ROADSHOW
Boonah - March 3
Rosewood - March 4
Toogoolawah - March 5
Mungindi - March 5
Pittsworth - March 6


Registrations open NOW



WARWICK FARMERS FEED
Warwick Showgrounds
March 6th, 6pm
Celebrity Chef, Matt Golinski
Local duo, the Fern Brothers
RFCSSQ Chair, Karen Tully

Registrations open NOW

 


RURAL AND REGIONAL BUSINESS ROADSHOW
9 - 12 March 2020

Learn about the support programs available for your primary production and small business enterprises.

March 9 - BLACKALL, CHARLEVILLE
March 10 - ROMA, DALBY
March 11 - INGLEWOOD, STANTHORPE
March 12 - BEAUDESERT, GYMPIE


Registrations open NOW


RFCSSQ GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE ROADSHOW
Quilpie - March 17
Cunnamulla - March 18
Thargominah - March 19


Registrations open NOW

 


RFCSSQ GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE ROADSHOW
Gin Gin  - March 24
Childers - March 25
Monto - March 26

Warwick - March 27

Registrations open NOW

 
CEO'S REPORT
Jenny Whip

Spirits are up in many Southern Queensland areas after the wonderful rain received in January and February. 
The countryside is showing it's forgiveness after the lengthy dryness and grasses in the paddocks are growing almost overnight. 
My thoughts are with those farmers who have sadly missed the bulk of the rain and it is disappointing the rain didn’t reach all of Queensland.
It is to be hoped that those areas that missed out during the January/February rainfall events will receive well deserved falls in the near future.

The recent bushfire assistance grants that were announced during the month will be available to more Queensland primary producers.
Bushfire-Impacted farmers in the Livingstone, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Noosa, Scenic Rim, Somerset, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba local government areas will now have access to grants of up to $75,000 to assist with their bushfire recovery. 
This assistance measure is very welcome.
Southern Queensland RFCS appreciates the Queensland and Australian Government’s generous commitment to assisting those farmers to get their businesses and livelihoods back on track. 
Our team of counsellors can provide further assistance on the various assistance programs for the bushfire affected primary producers. 

The drought continues and its impacts will affect our hard working farmers for many years into the future.
There are numerous assistance measures including income support payments and loans with interest free periods that may be beneficial for farming enterprises. 
Our counsellors are also working with primary producers who are keen to review their operations and livestock stocking options. 
Since the rain we have had an increase in the number of farmers wanting to know more about life after farming and setting some strategies in place for family succession.

Should any farmers wish to discuss the suite of free assistance the Rural Financial Counsellors can provide please telephone Head Office on 07 4622 5500 or www.rfcssq.org.au.
The team at RFCS Southern Queensland very much look forward to assisting you now and into the future with your business planning and options for the future.


Jenny
 
CHAIR'S REPORT
Karen Tully

In recent months, Australians have watched in horror as ferocious bushfires have ravaged communities, homes and businesses across several states.
The sheer enormity, suddenness and scale of the fires has been shocking.
People are slowly moving forward into recovery mode; however, it is widely acknowledged that this will be a multi-year, slow and painful process.
To imagine a new future and to support your family and community to pick up the bits, put away what was and accept the loss whilst imagining and growing a new life is difficult, painful and yet, totally possible.    

Amongst the process of rebuilding, there will be many ‘if only’ moments for people. 
The task of reestablishing a small business or a primary production enterprise will be difficult for all – both those directly devastated by the fires and those who were not directly impacted by the fire,  yet operate a commercial business in a community that was impacted by fire.  For all, life has changed.   
No doubt, many of us have had moments where they have reflected and dwelled on the ‘what if’ thought – ‘what would I do if I had 1 hour to leave my house or business’. 
What would I take? 

Each person who may possibly be impacted by a sudden impact natural disaster – be it fire, floods, cyclones, earthquakes needs to proactively think and plan for an evacuation scenario.
We all need to action certain things now.    
In business terms, this is called risk management and planning mitigation measures to reduce the impacts.     

Whilst watching the images of the fires over recent months, I had my personal ‘what if’ moment. 
I realized I had no idea as to what I would pack in the car if I had 1 hours’ notice to leave. 
Beyond the usual suspects of photo albums, pets, devices, water, a few clothes and a swag, I really did know.
Thinking further, I realized how many random pieces of paper, passwords, and documents I have that I deem important, however they are in various drawers, files, cupboards etc.
It would certainly take me longer than 1 hour to locate them, even if I was thinking rationally (which I seriously doubt I would be, given the circumstances of the evacuation). 
Should you be away from home or the business at the time of the evacuation, would you be able to succinctly direct a friend to go in and grab the essentials from the various drawers, files, cabinets? 
What have you set up that would mitigate or reduce business and personal impacts in such a scenario?
If you had to rebuild your business or home life after a sudden impact disaster, what would be the essentials you would need to commence the process of notifying insurers, financiers, creditors and debtors of your circumstances?
What might be needed to rebuild your business?   
Have you memorized all passwords, policy numbers and phone numbers? 
If you had to sit down in the months after a disaster with a financial counsellor to revisit your changed business operating circumstances, how would you go with having access to necessary documents and passwords?   

As I pondered this over summer, I realized it was time to put together an “escape box”, which includes both personal and business documents.
There are many generic lists on the internet which suggest what might be included in such a box. 
Use these as your starting point and add to it, to suit your circumstances. 
I also have generated a list reminding me to grab my diary, wallet, address book and the all-important ‘password’ book from my office.  
The latter would be possibly the most important for me, as accessing various online accounts and logging into ‘the cloud’ where my ‘everything’ (personal, business and photos) is stored is most important.
How many of us know our log in details to ‘the cloud’ stored records and files? 
I know my devices are set up to allow automatic access, syncing and updating.
Don’t forget those special historical documents e.g. the old Rainfall Recording Book or the original map of the land. 
This knowledge is irreplaceable, unless you have scanned the contents into ‘the cloud’. 
 
Whilst it is reassuring to know that the Rural Financial Counselling Service – Southern Qld is available to assist eligible primary producers and small business post disaster, there are proactive risk management activities that should be undertaken now, if you are to protect  your yourself from those ‘if only’ or ‘what if’ moments following a natural disaster.
It might be a small action now to set up an ‘escape box’, however it could prove to be a key factor in the first steps of recovery after a sudden impact natural disaster.
If you have been impacted by summer bushfires in Queensland, please contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service -Southern Qld to see if you are eligible for assistance.  Our doors are open, and our team are ready to support eligible businesses. 

Karen


 
Disclaimer of Liability 
Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in RFCSSQ’s newsletters, however, RFCSSQ cannot guarantee that there will be no errors.
RFCSSQ makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of the newsletters and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this newsletters.
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