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New Australian Government assistance for drought affected farmers and their communities.



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BACK Home | Media Releases DAFF06/067SL- 24

New Australian Government Assistance for Drought Affected Farmers and their Communities

Additional funding of $7 million will be provided to Rural Financial Counselling Services to assist with the increased workload brought on by drought.

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Sussan Ley, said the need may be for more counsellors or for help with extra costs, depending on the severity of the drought affected area.

“The additional funding is part of the Australian Government’s drought package announced today,” she said.

“Financial counselling services will be in high demand in a number of areas.

“The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will soon be contacting Rural Financial Counselling Services in the Exceptional Circumstances areas where demand is most concentrated to discuss the arrangements for additional funding,” Ms Ley said.

The drought funding will apply to June 2008.

Ms Ley said this drought related funding is additional to the increase of $9.72 million for two years, announced in the 2006-07 Budget, for the Rural Financial Counselling Service Programme. That increase was for the Programme to introduce new operational arrangements and to ease financial pressure on rural communities to fund and manage rural financial counselling.

“Rural Financial Counselling services are now on an improved professional base to provide a more focused, flexible and responsive service,” Ms Ley said.

“Centrelink has received funding to assist with increased demands for personal counselling. I expect Rural Financial Counselling Services will work with Centrelink to provide a comprehensive service to farmers affected by drought.

“Today’s drought package and the Budget funding will continue to see rural Australians have access to high-quality and impartial information,” Ms Ley said.

The Rural Financial Counselling Service Programme provides free access to confidential financial counselling services to help primary producers, fishermen and small rural businesses in their decision-making.

“I encourage those in need to contact their local rural financial counselling service or the Office of Rural Financial Counselling (1800 686 175) and the Centrelink Drought Assistance hotline (13 23 16),” Ms Ley said.

Further media inquiries:

Ms Ley's office: Verity Williams 02 6277 4503 or 0428 213 264

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