Change your region Coonabarabran

Financial Counselling

<p><strong>By Perrie Croshaw</strong></p> <p>People working in rural and regional Australia don&rsquo;t need to be located back of Bourke or on the Birdsville Track to feel cut off and alone. Sometimes, you can be surrounded by family, other farmers or small business owners but still feel isolated. This is especially so if your problems are financial.</p> <p>But whether you run acreage in the centre of the state which hasn&rsquo;t seen rain for a decade, or a small rural tourism business that&rsquo;s been hit by high petrol prices and no visitors, help is online or at the end of a phone.&nbsp;</p> <p>A real person (not just a machine) answers the phone when you call the Rural Financial Counselling Service on 1800 686 175. They can help you find a counsellor nearest your farm or business. Or checkout <a href="http://www.daff.gov.au">www.daff.gov.au</a> (Agriculture and food; former AAA programs) for more information.</p> <p>This service, while funded by the government, is free, impartial and independent of financial institutions, welfare agencies and government. It is designed to help you if you are in serious financial difficulty.</p> <p>They will make an appointment for you to see a counsellor, face-to-face. This counsellor will help you identify financial and business options for your farm or small business, help you prepare reports on your financial situation, provide you with information about government and other assistance schemes, help you find an accountant or agricultural adviser and help you prepare loan applications. They can also facilitate meetings with lenders and financial institutions to perhaps discuss a debt rescheduling program.<br />&nbsp;<br />While Rural Financial Counsellors can&rsquo;t help you with social or family counselling, they can help you find someone who can. These counsellors have links with family mediation professionals for personal, emotional and social counselling. They can even put you in contact with someone to advise you about succession planning.<br />&nbsp;<br />Rural counsellors can provide you with further information about programs such as:</p> <p>Farm help: This program offers assistance of up to $80,500 per farm family for those who are experiencing severe financial difficulties meeting living expenses and are unlikely to obtain a loan from a financial institution.</p> <p>Farm Management Deposits: This deposit scheme is a tax-linked, risk-management tool which allows primary producers to deal with variable income.</p> <p>People who have used this service say that it is &lsquo;local and accessible&rsquo; and also say there was little or no embarrassment associated with asking for help.</p> <p>Don&rsquo;t put off contacting your rural financial counselling service. If you think you need financial help, then you probably do. Don&rsquo;t stress any longer. Give them a call and make an appointment now.</p> <p><strong>Am I eligible?</strong></p> <p>The counselling service is designed for primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses. According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website, a small rural business is defined as &lsquo;one that employs under 10 fulltime or equivalent staff&rsquo;. In order to qualify for the counselling service, your business must also be predominantly focused on offering services to primary producers and have a direct involvement in primary production (for example a fencing or stock management contractor).</p>

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