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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
BUSH FIRE SUPPORT FOR PRODUCERS

A devastating bush fire season in Australia has seen thousands of homes lost, tens of thousands of livestock lost and the financial impacts have been estimated at $2 billion.

As a result, the Southern Downs and Livingstone Regional councils have been granted $1 million each to help finance bush fire recovery projects.
"Councils will be able to spend their $1 million on projects and activities they deem essential such as rebuilding damaged or destroyed assets including local roads, bridges, and community facilities and hosting new public activities and events to bring communities together and attract visitors back to affected regions as well as immediate maintenance and repairs to relief and evacuation centres.

Read a Queensland Country Life article about the announcement here.

The Rural Financial Counselling Service has received a funding boost as a result of the bushfire and continuing drought crisis.
60 additional Rural Financial Counsellors and support workers plus $15 million in additional funding will be provided to the Rural Financial Counselling Service.
Southern Queensland expects to be the recipient of some of the additional funding.
"Our resources are certainly stretched by current natural disasters so any additional support will be put to good use," CEO, Jenny Whip said.

In Livingstone, Noosa, Somerset and Toowoomba shires, a Diaster Recovery Payment is available.
This is a payment of $1000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child for those people who have been adversely affected by the bushfires.
You have until 21 May 2020 to make a claim in the above mentioned shires.

For more information click here.

In Bundaberg, Gold Coast, Livingstone, Lockyer Valley, Noosa, Scenic Rim, Somerset, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast and Southern Downs shires, a Disaster Recovery Allowance is available.
This is a short-term income support payment to assist individuals who can demonstrate their income is affected as a direct result of a disaster.
The allowance is payable for a maximum of thirteen weeks from the date at which a person has, or will have, a loss of income as a direct result of a disaster.
You have until 21 May 2020 to make a claim in the above mentioned shires.

For more information click here.

Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) are available including personal hardship assistance as well as Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) freight subsidies and Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) disaster assistance loans.

Personal Hardship
The personal hardship assistance of $180 per person to a maximum of $900 for a family of five or more is designed for an emergency helping hand.
Personal hardship financial assistance and the Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Scheme has been activated for people impacted by the bushfire event in the following locations:
Sunshine Coast Regional Council area:
Suburbs
Peregian Beach (including Peregian Breeze Estate)
Peregian Springs
Weyba Downs
Noosa Shire Council area:
Suburbs
Marcus Beach
Peregian Beach
Scenic Rim Regional Council area:
Suburbs
Beechmont Township
Binna Burra
Canungra
Illinbah
Sarabah
Southern Downs Regional Council area:
Suburbs
Applethorpe (and targeted localities)
Thulimbah
For more information 
click here.

Freight Subsidies
Available to transport fodder, building and/or fencing material, equipment and machinery and livestock
For more information 
click here.

 
Disaster Assistance Loans
Concessional loans of up to $250,000 are available to help primary producers repair or replace fire damaged building, plant and equipment or livestock.repairing or replacing damaged plant and equipment.

Concessional loans are provided to assist you to re-establish the normal operations of your primary production enterprise by covering costs such as:
  • repairing or replacing farm buildings
  • purchasing livestock to replace those lost in the disaster event
  • meeting carry-on requirements including:
  • re-planting, restoring or re-establishing areas affected by the disaster event
  • sustenance
  • essential property operations
  • paying rent and rates
For more information click here.
MEANWHILE THE DROUGHT CONTINUES TO BITE
While there has been substantial rain in parts of Queensland, large tracts of Southern Queensland have missed out completely or received only small amounts of rain.
RFCSSQ remains committed to assisting our clients to access government support measures.
Please call 07 46 22 55 00 to arrange your free, confidential, impartial consultation with one of our highly skilled rural financial counsellors.
FARM HOUSEHOLD ALLOWANCE
Current: 14/01/2019
WHAT IS FARM HOUSEHOLD ALLOWANCE?
Farm Household Allowance is an Australian Government initiative that provides assistance to farming families experiencing financial hardship.

WHAT DOES IT PROVIDE?
A fortnightly payment; assistance with other expenses; access to support staff; a farm assessment; funds for training and a lump sum payment.
There are six key support elements available for up to 4 cumulative years (increased by the Australian Government from the original 3 years)
o    A fortnightly payment
o    Other assistance includes rent assistance, telephone and pharmaceutical allowances and a health care card
o    Access to a Farm Household Case Officer and a Rural Financial Counsellor
o    A farm assessment of the enterprise up to $1500
o    A $4000 activity supplement to develop skills, access training and pay for advice to better manage their business into the future.

IS IT AVAILABLE FOR ALL FARMERS?
The program is focused on significantly commercial farming enterprises.

WHAT ARE THE RECENT CHANGES ANNOUNCED IN MEDIA?
Legislation is currently before the Parliament to change the limit on Farm Household Allowance payment to 4 in every 10 years (not 4 years in total); to increase the off-farm income offset; to change the farm assets test threshold and to provide a lump sum payment for Farm Household Allowance recipients who have used their 4 years of support. 
Producers who reach their maximum time on the support before 1 July 2020, will receive an extra relief payment of $7500 for an individual farmer or $6500 for each member of a couple. The payment will happen automatically from the 16th of December, 2019.
From January 2020, eligible farmers will be able to apply online for FHA in a single claim.
Implementation dates for this set of changes are yet to be announced but are expected soon.
From 1 July 2020, the combined off farm and on farm assets test threshold will permanently increase to $5.5 million. 


HOW DOES RURAL FINANCIAL COUNSELLING SERVICE FIT IN?
The Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland offers a free, confidential, impartial financial counselling service that includes assistance accessing the Farm Household Allowance program
KEEPING BUSY
STARTING THE YEAR WITH PURPOSE
In early January, RFCSSQ CEO, Jenny Whip, and RFCS SQ Chair, Karen Tully Chair meet with representatives from the Federal Department of Agriculture to collaborate and review the value of the RFCS SQ service.
The meeting was a productive one, discussing the resourcing needs for the Southern Queensland region and planning for an increase in enquiries due to the ongoing drought and the impact of bush fires.
The team from the Department have a good understanding of the conditions and a genuine empathy for the impacts on  our farmers and small businesses. 
Karen and Jenny expressed their gratitude for the ongoing funding for the Southern Queensland area which will continue until 30 June, 2021 which is the term of the existing funding delivery arrangements.


THE 2020 INVESTMENT ROUND OF THE LAND RESTORATION FUND IS NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS

In 2020, the Queensland Government is investing $100 million for land sector projects that deliver environmental, social or economic benefits while expanding carbon farming in Queensland.
The Government will prioritise projects that provide benefits for threatened species, such as koalas, improve Reef water quality, and support Traditional landscape management practices or other social or economic benefits. 
Farmers, nature refuge landholders, carbon service providers, Traditional Owner groups and organisations involved in the agricultural or livestock sectors are encouraged to apply.
There will be two intakes of applications with the first intake closing on 28 February 2020 and the second intake closing on 15 April 2020.
Applicants are also eligible to receive a rebate of up to $10,000 to cover the costs of seeking professional advice to complete the application.
To learn more about the Fund, project eligibility and how to apply, attend one of the state-wide workshops or visit the Land Restoration Fund website
UPCOMING EVENTS

WOWAN - YEPPOON - CALLIOPE
4th, 5th, 6th February
"Government Assistance Information Day"
Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ invites
primary producers and small business owners to get
up-to-date information on the Government assistance
available to you in relation to bushfires and drought.
Register at www.rfcssq.org.au on the event registration tab.



MILES - MUNGALLALA - BOLLON - ST GEORGE
18th, 19th, 20th, 21st February
"Government Assistance Information Day"
Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ invites
primary producers and small business owners to get
up-to-date information on the Government assistance
available to you in relation to bushfires and drought.
Register at www.rfcssq.org.au on the event registration tab.



DIRRANBANDI
February 21 2020
"BBQ at the Pub'
Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ and the Balonne Shire Council
would like to shout you dinner at the Dirranbandi pub.
Get together with your mates
Enjoy a night out supporting locals
Access to RFCSSQ counsellors



EMERALD - GYMPIE - BLACKBUTT - GOOMERI

25th, 26th, 27th and 28th February
"Government Assistance Information Day"
Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ invites
primary producers and small business owners to get
up-to-date information on the Government assistance
available to you in relation to bushfires and drought.
Register at www.rfcssq.org.au on the event registration tab.




WARWICK
March 6th 2020
"Farmers Feed'
Matt Golinski will be feeding Warwick farmers on Friday the 6th of March.
Registrations will open in February 2020.
Watch this space!



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 in February 2020
STAFF
FAREWELL VICKI BEITZ

TEN years ago, Vicki Beitz started work with the Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ (RFCSSQ) in Roma.
One of a team of six counsellors, the well-respected banker found herself assisting primary producers to apply for interest subsidies and flood assistance.
In 2020, Vicki’s position is one of 34 counsellors and her day to day role is much more about drought support measures.
“Interest subsidies used to be the government assistance of the day but that all finished in about 2011, nowadays people are applying for the Australia Dam Desilting Rebate, Farm Household Allowance and the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme.”
Commencing in 2014, the Farm Household Allowance scheme undergone numerous improvements and a huge increase in uptake.
“FHA is definitely more utilised now because there is a greater need for the support,” Vicki said.
“Those producers who used to consider themselves reasonably comfortable are now stretched financially and they are looking for assistance.”
The role of the Rural Financial Counsellor has evolved over time and Vicki said the changes reflected not only a growing need, but also a greater acknowledgement of the importance of independent, free, confidential financial counselling.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping producers face up to harsh truths about their business and then make hard decisions to address issues.”
The RFCSSQ does not offer emotional counselling however the reality for counsellors is every financial decision has an emotional reaction.
“As counsellors, we build a close rapport with our clients and the biggest challenge is handling emotional reactions to decisions,” Vicki said.
Vicki has resigned from her position and finished with the organisation on the 17th of January, 2020.
“I urge producers to utilise the Rural Financial Counselling Service and access the range of skills available in the team.
The service is unique and the role of counsellor has been diverse and rewarding.”
RFCSSQ CEO, Jenny Whip thanked Vicki for her contribution over the past ten years.
COUNSELLOR'S CORNER

Brian Dodson has returned to the Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ and is based in Goondiwindi.
His new role will be to assist Goondiwindi Financial Counsellor, Nicole Gamack to service Goondiwindi, St George and Mungindi and surrounding areas.

My job:
I commenced my career many years ago working for the Wentworth/Balranald Rural Financial Counselling Service and eventually became part of Central West team based in Buronga and then Broken Hill – servicing a large portion of the Western Division of NSW.
I took my first break from the Rural Financial Counselling Service and spent three years working on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia (135,000 sq km) commencing in Economic Development, establishing a camel industry and employing some 80 odd Aboriginal fellas and after 2 years became CEO.
I returned to the NSW Central West working out of Dubbo/Gilgandra and then came back to RFCS Southern Queensland and finished up in Charleville for three of the next four years.
I had a break from the RFCS and returned home to Mildura for a year and worked as Financial Counsellor with a welfare organisation.
After a very short 'sort of' retirement,  the “pull” to return to Qld was too much and ‘well here I am again’.

I very much enjoy working with farmers and ‘living the dream’ in the bush.
I relish the challenge and sharing an extremely testing time in all our lives.

Qualifications
Cert Bus Studies (RMIT)
Trained - Mediator (Bond Uni)
Dip Welfare Studies
Dip Fin Counselling

Outside work:
My interests include Cycling, Painting, Travel, Reading and travel and I've even completed in Ironman competitions on a few occasions!
I have four beautiful children, who despite my need to “walk-about” and my short-comings, are extremely supportive.
As are my four loving grandchildren (Grandies).
Bundaberg Rural Financial Counsellor, Kath Clarke is passionate about helping her clients.
“It is important to me that I can help others achieve better financial knowledge and management of their business, to ensure that the rural lifestyle can be enjoyed by future generations of farming families.”
After working within the banking sector for a number of years as a personal lender and then moving into bookkeeping and financial management for rural businesses over the last few years, Kath has a good knowledge of the issues facing primary producers. 
Her area includes Bundaberg, Childers, Gin Gin and surrounds, but also extends into the Gladstone region.
Encouraging financial literacy and embracing technology to streamline business processes is one area that Kath specialises. 
She can assist her clients to improve their understanding of the options available to them in their financial situation, assist with funding applications to Government organisations and provide practical support.
Kath’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Accounting, Diploma of Public Safety and she has completed her Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling).
CEO'S REPORT
Jenny Whip

As we head into 2020, my immediate thoughts are with Southern Queensland farmers, primary producers and small businesses struggling from the continual never-ending drought and the impacts from the devastating bushfires in the latter half of 2019. 
With the terrible events that have also unfolded with the bushfires in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, our thoughts are also with those from other states who have endured these horrific events.
There are numerous assistance programs for those impacted by the bushfires and they are detailed in this January Edition of Rural Finances.

Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants Open to 30 June, 2020
The team at RFCS Southern Queensland would like to encourage any primary producers whose enterprise suffered direct damage as a result of the Eastern Queensland Bushfires (8 November to 19 December, 2019) to apply for the special disaster assistance recovery grants. 
These grants are up to a maximum $25,000 to assist eligible primary producers to assist with clean-up and reinstatement costs. 
For further information contact Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (Click here) or telephone 1800 623 946.
If you require assistance or have any other queries, please do not hesitate to contact one of the RFCS Southern Queensland team. 

We have been inundated with enquiries about the Drought Loans for farmers and small businesses. 
The benefits of the loans are that they are fee free, provide a 2 year interest free period, 3 years interest only and 5 years principal and interest. 
Farmers can borrow up to $2 million and small businesses up to a maximum $500,000.  
I would encourage any farmers or small businesses who would like to find out more about these loans to contact the Regional Investment Corporation on 1800 875 675 or one of our counsellors on 07 4622 5500 or www.rfcssq.org.au.

The highlight of 2020 to date which is bringing smiles to some faces, has been some rain falling over some of our parched lands. 
Some significant falls have been received in some areas but unfortunately rainfall has been very patchy. 
I hope that changes in weather patterns in Queensland will be the start of more widespread falls.
The RFCSSQ team are keen to assist our farmers and small business operators to access some of the many support programs available or to have a general discussion on how your business is going during these tough times and how we can help. 
I encourage anyone in Southern Queensland to make contact and one of the counsellors will arrange an appointment either in the office or on farm at a time suitable to you. 
We do have some wait-times in some areas but please make contact and the rural financial counsellor will advise their earliest appointment. 
www.rfcssq.org.au or telephone 07 4622 5500.
CHAIR'S REPORT
Karen Tully

The world has watched with intrigue as events have unfolded within the British Royal Family, as HRH Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have announced a proposed new direction for themselves in 2020 and beyond.  
As ‘employees’ of the family ‘firm’, they have a made a decision to move forward in a different manner to that expected of them; in a manner that is outside of current mode of operations and rather abruptly.  
Maybe as a farming family, you have found yourself in a similar situation?
Family succession planning is an important part of any family centred, multi-generational business.  
Succession planning is simply the different stages of planning necessary to sell or pass a business on to your successor(s).  
For centuries, the British Royal Family has prepared each generation for their future work roles and responsibilities in supporting the reigning monarch, and in return, family members have received benefits from the ‘firm’.  
In a successful multi-generational primary production business, the same proactive and collective communications, strategizing and planning is essential if the business is to transfer seamlessly from one generation to the next.  
Early planning may help in avoiding a loss of farm assets and ensure that all family members are treated respectfully and fairly, whilst each is able to realise their own personal ambitions.  
Proactive communication whereby all stakeholders (including the daughter or son-in-law) are speaking up freely and listening intently is the first step in a successful transition.  
This needs to happen well in advance and needs to be ongoing, especially as circumstances change e.g. marriage, divorce, the arrival of children etc.  One ponders if this has happened in recent times with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex?  
If it had, would the events of recent weeks have had a different outcome?
As we have observed from afar, succession planning for HRH Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne has been emotionally challenging and stressful for all concerned.
Whilst the line of succession is very apparent with the Royal Family, it would appear the the expectations, ambitions and goals of those closest to the throne has not been fully communicated and managed, and this has created the recent tension and unwelcome media headlines.  
Should you be part of a farm business that is likely to be passed onto other members of the family, it is important to start thinking and talking about succession long before it happens.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland can assist eligible clients with the initial steps around the development of a succession plan and help you to prepare the necessary documentation which can be used in conjunction with a professional succession planning to develop the direction of your business succession.  
If succession planning is on your radar for 2020, our team can assist you with pre-succession planning processes.  
The business role of the British Royal Family is to support Queen Elizabeth II with her state duties, and this work is essential to the survival of the ‘firm’.
Likewise, within a family farm.  
The long-term sustainability of the farm needs to be considered and all family members need to communicate early and listen to each other. This is the first step in planning successful succession (try saying that three times quickly) that will benefit both people and the farm business assets.  
The RFCS SQ provides pre-succession planning support that is free, impartial and confidential.  
To find out more, please phone our office on
07 46 22 55 00.

"Don’t be caught out like the Royal Family and find yourself convening emergency summits to discuss the finer details of succession planning! "

 
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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42b Wyndham Street, Roma QLD 4455
Phone: 07 46 22 5500 Email: admin@rfcssq.org.au

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