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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
FARM HOUSEHOLD ALLOWANCE UPDATES HAPPEN

During November, announcements were made in relation to changes to the Farm Household Allowance scheme (FHA).

Those changes are starting to be formalised.

Already farming families have better access to FHA with changes allowing payments for 4 years in specific ten year periods.
Those producers who have already used up their 4 years can claim FHA again from July 1, 2024 and will be eligible for FHA for up to 4 years in each ten year period.
The first three periods are:
July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2024
July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2034
July 1, 2034 to June 30, 2044

Farmers and their partners who reach their maximum time on FHA before July 1, 2020 will get an extra relief payment.
Depending on eligibility, single farmers will be paid $7500, while each member of a couple will receive $6500.
These relief payments will happen automatically and will commence from December 16, 2019.
RFCSSQ urges people to confirm their bank account details are correct to ensure a timely delivery of the funds.
In more news, from January 11, 2020, farming couples can make one joint claim for FHA and it can be done online.

Minister Bridget McKenzie commented:
“FHA is an important support measure and is available to farmers who experience hardship, regardless of the cause. Right now, the drought is causing real hurt. That’s why our government has acted to make sure that FHA is available to farmers four years in 10 rather than three years in a lifetime. It’s why we legislated to allow the Agriculture Minister to make future lump sum payments if conditions don’t improve so that those whose time on the payment has ended can continue to access the support Australians expect them to receive. Lump sum payments will be made automatically and will be in bank accounts ahead of Christmas – no one needs to apply. Those whose time on FHA expired before 16 December 2019 will start receiving payments from tonight. Those whose time on the support payment will end between now and 30 June 2020 will be paid as soon as they finish their first four years of fortnightly FHA payments.”  

Also in effect today are improvements to the income assessment criteria.
Income from farming related activities (such as agistment) will be included in farm income, rather than off-farm income.
Farmers can offset more of their off-farm income against farm losses with the limit increasing from $80,000 to $100,000.
Subject to the passage of legislation, the assets test will be simplified with farm and non-farm assets combined under a single $5.5 million limit.

For more information,
Click here
CHARITY DROUGHT SUPPORT DOUBLED
Demand for the Drought Community Support Initiative delivered by the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Salvation Army has forced a rethink on the funding level for the scheme.
Announced on Monday, December 16 by Minister for Drought, David Littleproud, an additional $33.2 million from the Federal Government has been allocated to the initiative.
The initiative commenced in September 2019 with $33 million.

Payment of up to $3000 will continue to be available to drought-hit farming families throughout Christmas and the New Year.
“The Government is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with drought communities and we will keep stepping up our response as this drought steps up,” Minister Littleproud said.


If you're a farmer, farm worker or farm supplier/contractor who is struggling financially because of the drought, you may be entitled to receive a one-off payment of up to $3,000 funded by the Australian Government’s Drought Community Support Initiative Round 2 (DCSI).
To be eligible you'll need to be over 18, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and live/work in a specified Local Government Area (LGA). 
Payments can cover numerous expenses such as groceries, vehicle maintenance, energy and utility bills, health and medical expenses, for example.
Please note that assistance might be provided by either The Salvation Army or Vinnies, depending on your Local Government Area (LGA). The list of eligble LGAs and which organisation you should approach can be found 
here.
Upon completion of your application for financial assistance you may be required to submit a valid form of I.D.

If you have any questions ahead of filling out an online application, you can call
the
Drought Community Support team on 1300 551 030
Applications should be made through either
The St Vincent de Paul Society on 1300 846 643 or at
 www.vinnies.org.au/droughthelp 
or 
The Salvation Army on 1300 551 030 or at 
www.salvationarmy.org.au/drought
CONCESSIONAL DROUGHT LOAN INFORMATION KIT

In response to increased phone calls enquiring about the recent Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) concessional drought loans, RFCSSQ have developed a RIC information kit for producers and small business operators.
The kit contains information about the loan products including application forms, eligibility guidelines, a drought management plan template and a cash flow template. 
You can request an electronic copy by contacting RFCSSQ on 07 46 22 55 00 or by email on admin@rfcssq.org.au.
The Bundaberg 'Way with Words' workshop attendees

WAY WITH WORDS
Former ABC Journalist and now 'Way with Words' company director, Peter Lewis was on the road in December, holding a series of communication workshops.
The events were a great inroduction and refresher on marketing and promotion utilising social media.
Funded by the Burnett Mary Regional Group, RFCSSQ staff including Biggenden counsellor, Kim Corfield, Gympie counsellor, Derk Abberfield, Bundaberg counsellor, Kath Clarke and mobile counsellor, Alison Paulger attended.

Comments from Derk Abberfield
"The Peter Lewis work shop at Gympie was put on by the Burnett Mary Regional Group free of charge. 
It was an excellent course and a great networking opportunity with many regional stakeholders attending.
It was very relaxed and practical while also being very informative.
Peter's social media checklist included things like, treat your social media posts as seriously as you would posting something on a community noticeboard, keep any video to 30-40 seconds, say who you are and what you do, avoid windy recording areas, big hats, sun glasses and busy backgrounds and don't forget to smile and practice."


 
ITS A BUSY TIME

The Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland is being inundated with calls for financial counselling.
In some areas, this means there may be a short delay until an appointment with a counsellor is available.
This demand indicates the level of financial stress in both the rural industry and the associated small businesses in rural and regional towns and the value of the service we provide.
We are proud of the work our counsellors do in the hours they are allocated.

Local Counsellors
Biggenden - Kim Corfield - 0427 296 848
Biloela - Bronwyn Schultz - 0448 124 016
Bundaberg - Kath Clarke - 0439 067 944
Charleville - Angie Bowden - 0419 737 443
Charleville - Teri Sommerfield - 0457 000 681
Emerald - Tricia Laffer - 0447 789 109
Gatton - Vicki Franklin - 0447 667 812
Gatton - Rachel Hancock - 0477 056 074
Goondiwindi - Nicole Gamack - 0447 760 743
Gympie - Derk Abberfield - 0428 755 708
Kingaroy - Belinda Clair - 0448 999 742
Miles - Hilary Weedon - 0491 259 861
Rockhampton - John Lacey - 0429 894 474
Roma - Nathan Wichlacz - 0428 341 397
Roma - Dale Murphy - 0408 790 087
Toowoomba - Lewes Golden - 0447 764 483
Toowoomba - Jen Turner - 0428 978 951
Warwick - Michael Fagg - 0419 732 591
Warwick - Kim Zerner - 0491 259 950
Mobile - Sally Ottaway - 0427 803 706
Mobile - Alison Paulger - 0429 186 897

Small Business Counsellors
Roma - Brian Wippell - 0447 568 971
Charleville - Lauren Schmidt - 0448 021 253
Charleville - Michelle Gordon - 0448 182 161
Mobile - Jo Tardent - 0437 292 848

 
2020 EVENTS
MARK YOUR DIARIES..

DIRRANBANDI
February 21 2020
"BBQ at the Pub'
Rural Financial Counselling Service 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



 



WARWICK
March 6 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

 


GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE
INFORMATION DAYS

February/March 2020

More information available in January
KEEPING BUSY
Jo Tardent, RFCSSQ Small Business Counsellor at the Toowoomba Small Business Expo.
TOOWOOMBA SMALL BUSINESS EXPO

RFCSSQ Small Business counsellor, Jo Tardent attended the Toowoomba Small Business Expo on Friday the 29th of November.

The event which was hosted by the Toowoomba City Council and partnership with local business industry groups and sponsors, attracted over 150 small business owners.

"It was a great way for businesses to collaborate and network with the possibility of gaining more business before the quiet Christmas period," Jo said.
The event was jam packed with activities and speakers, food trucks and live entertainment.
"I had the opportunity to meet some fantastic people while promoting our Small Business Rural Financial Counselling Service and discussed the support we are able to offer to small business owners feeling the effects of this unprecedented drought."

 

 


 
BALONNE SHIRE COUNCIL BUSINESS MENTORING
AGRICULTURE - HORTICULTURE - SMALL/MEDIUM BUSINESS - TOURISM
Balonne Shire Council has been successful in securing funds to assist Balonne Shire based businesses under the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program. The purpose of the Business Mentoring Program is to assist and help grow local businesses and agribusinesses.
For more information, Click here.
STAFF
COUNSELLOR'S CORNER

Kim Corfield is our Rural Financial Counsellor in Biggenden.
Kim looks after the North Burnett Regional Council area.

My job:
As Rural Financial Counsellors, we are in the fortunate position of being able to help farmers and graziers to tackle often the most difficult financial decisions facing their business enterprises.
Every day is different and every day we make a difference to farmers livelihoods.
Often Rural Financial Counsellors are the first people past the farm gate and we help clients to review all options available to them.
Through identifying resources available or considering alternative positions it is satisfying to see farmers' businesses turnaround.  
 
What’s going on in your area?
Dust and Dry Weather!
It's been an extremely dry year, with estimates of less than half our usual average rainfall. The last month has seen a massive deterioration in feed available for cattle and with the lack of run off rain in the past two seasons many graziers are running out of surface water.
Some herds are being sold due to lack of water, whilst others are availing of the current State and Federal Government Drought Assistance packages to clean out dams or apply for  emergency water infrastructure.

Enquiries have escalated with the recent Federal Government announcements of Drought Loans with 0% interest for the first two years, followed by a three year interest only period, culminating in a five year principal and interest repayment time frame.
We encourage all farmers and graziers to visit www.ric.gov.au to investigate their eligibility and begin their application process prior to contacting the Rural Financial Counselling Service for assistance.
Emergency Drought relief assistance is very much in demand and Rural Financial Counsellors are assisting by providing as much information as possible as to what resources are available and how to access it.

 Many farmers and graziers are concerned by the ongoing dry weather and when and if a wet season will arrive.
We are all hoping for a very wet Christmas across all of Queensland.


Outside work:
My mantra is I need to be in a good place myself if I am to help others who need me at my best each day.
In order to do this I try to exercise daily, socialise regularly with family and friends and always see the positives in most situations.
Humour is my weapon of choice and I love spending time on our family farm checking the cows especially during calving.
Family adventures are my favourite with my lovely husband and two gorgeous teenagers.  

You can contact Kim  on 0427 296 848
Our new Gatton based RFCSSQ counsellor, Vicki Franklin moved from Charleville this year to her new home just outside Gatton.
Formerly an AgForce Regional Manager and ABARES Field Data Collection officer, Vicki and her husband, Matt had been operating their own cattle station near Charleville for the past 21 years before the big move to Gatton.
With a strong retail banking background and an Agriculture, Agribusiness and Financial Services diploma, Vicki’s unique life story gives her a clear understanding of the decision, challenges and issues faced by rural producers.
“I have a great passion for agriculture and sustainable rural communities and I’m really looking forward to using my acquired skills and knowledge to give support and assistance to rural producers as they manage their businesses through the difficult times and setting and achieving future goals.”
Growing up on the Fraser Coast on a family owned beef cattle property, Alison holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is currently studying a Diploma of Financial Counselling.
“My family has been involved in beef cattle production for three generations, with small crops like sweet corn, pumpkins and watermelons, on the side.”
“I really enjoy being able to share my financial knowledge with farmers to assist them in working towards better business outcomes for their farming enterprises.”
Sharon Purcell has joined the RFCSSQ team as our Outreach Communications Officer.
Formerly an AgForce Regional Manager in Southern (Roma) and Central (Rockhampton) Queensland and a Queensland Country Life livestock writer and marketing rep, Sharon has called Roma home for nearly two years now!
Mum to two adult children, Sharon is taking responsibility for our marketing and promotion (including social media) and helping to coordinate and support the events our very busy team of financial counsellors attend.
"To work with such a team of passionate, committed people is delightful - it's not hard at all to find things to promote within the RFCSSQ...with nearly 30 counsellors in the team, the admin staff and the RFCSSQ board, the difficult part is keeping up with everyone!"
CEO'S REPORT
Jenny Whip

As the 2019 year draws to a close, I reflect on the challenges faced by farmers and small businesses across Southern Queensland. 
The ongoing drought and dryness, culminating in lack of water, hail, bush fires, extreme heat and extreme cold winter temperatures in some regions has caused unprecedented hardship.
To meet assistance requests from the many farmers and small businesses who are reaching out, we have expanded our team.
We now employ 27 rural financial counsellors including 4 small business rural financial counsellors.
The requests for assistance have primarily related to information and access to government assistance which is reflective of the climatic state of play in Southern Queensland. 
Cash flows and budget preparation, succession planning or other priority assistance requests have also been addressed.
I continue to marvel at our primary producers strength,  managing the repeated challenges they face in agriculture. 
Small businesses in rural centres also have the passion to keep operating in rural and regional centres where their cash flow has been severely depressed by the flow-on effect of the drought and lack of funds in the community.

Farm Household allowance changes are now in place.
Read the update in relation to FHA here.
I would like to stress, it is important that anyone who may be eligible for a lump sum payment after their four year payments cease, checks their bank account details making sure they are still current with the Department of Human Services. 

Some new assistance measures will come into effect early 2020 and we look forward to assisting primary producers and small businesses with information and access to these programs.

I would like to thank the numerous charities that have provided a much needed arm of financial and social support during the year. 
Their passion to assist rural and remote communities has been vital in these trying times.

From all the team at RFCS Southern Queensland, we hope you have a happy Christmas and New Year with your family and friends.  The best gift we could wish for is rain and we hope it is not too far around the corner. 
We look forward to assisting you and working with you in 2020.

Jenny Whip

 
CHAIR'S REPORT
Karen Tully

2019 has been another full and productive year for primary producers and small business operators in our operating area, and the Rural Financial Counselling Service has been kept busy assisting many clients with their needs. 
Our team of financial counsellors has confidentially and impartially worked with many clients across a variety of industries and regions with a range of needs. 

Many thanks to our caring and ever-giving team who have generously assisted many with their expertise and wise counsel. 
My genuine thanks also extends to our administrative officers, as well as our CEO Jenny Whip whose exemplary and dedicated leadership has guided the organisation in 2109.  Thank you, Jenny and team!
I would also like to acknowledge my fellow board members for their unwavering governance support and contributions as the year has unfolded. 

As we glide into December, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – with our rain gauges gently running over with wet cheer from the skies.
May 2020 be a productive and bountiful year for all.  

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

Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland is supported by the Federal and State Governments

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