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Local field officers provide Government presence for rural communities.



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M32/2001 22 February 2001

LOCAL FIELD OFFICERS PROVIDE GOVERNMENT PRESENCE FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES

Fifteen Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) field officers met with the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Ian Macdonald today to discuss their new role in promoting greater access to the RTC and other government Programmes for rural communities.

RTCs are helping to provide or restore basic services such as banking, Medicare easyclaim, business support and rooms for visiting professionals to small rural communities across Australia.  The field officers, who will be based in regional areas, are engaged in two weeks’ intensive training in Canberra and Brisbane.

“Australians in regional, rural and remote areas have been telling me they want face-to-face contact with government and people on-the-ground in their communities.  The RTC field officers will provide this vital connection between communities and government,” Senator Macdonald said.

“The field officers will raise awareness of what RTCs can do for rural towns, and guide communities through all the steps in the RTC application process, including determining what services potential RTCs can support.  They will also provide ongoing advice and assistance once an RTC has opened.

“To date, over 350 rural communities are involved with the RTC Programme: 19 Centres are operational and a total of 215 business planning and project assistance applications have been approved.  There is great scope for this number to be substantially boosted with field officers working directly with communities to develop their proposals.

“Feedback from communities with operational RTCs strongly suggests that they are playing a pivotal role in the community, not only by providing much-needed services, but by generating new optimism about the future,” Senator Macdonald said.

“The field officers have essential skills in revitalising communities and local knowledge of the communities they will be dealing with.  They will be based in Queensland (Mackay, Toowoomba); New South Wales (Tathra); Victoria (Bairnsdale, Bendigo); South Australia (Mt Gambier, Wudinna); Western Australia (Bunbury); Tasmania (Meander) and the Northern Territory (Darwin, Tennant Creek).  Officers will also be based in Far North Queensland, central NSW and the NSW north coast/New England area.

Communities wanting to get in touch with the Field Officer Network, or to arrange a visit can contact the RTC Secretariat on Freecall 1800 038 160.

Media Contact: Jackie Westcombe: (02) 6277 7060 / (0411) 250 869

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 Last updated:  Friday, 23 February 2001