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Rural counselling services expand



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media releaseMinister for Primary Industries and Energyit Simon Crean, MP ^ ftTsTRAT g jj .7 ■ '·' 1 DPIE92/38C 26 May 1992

R U R A L C O U N SE L L IN G SE R V IC E S EXPAND

The Commonwealth Government has approved funding for two new rural counselling services, one in Queensland and one in Western Australia, to provide financial guidance to farmers.

The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, said funding was also approved for a second rural counsellor to be based at Ballarat in Victoria.

The Government provided additional funding in the 'One Nation' package to enable further expansion of the successful rural counselling program. The Commonwealth provides up to 50 per cent of the cost a community-based group incurs in setting up and maintaining a local counsellor. Total funding for the program in 1991-92 is now $2,825 million.

"The new groups approved for funding will be based at Roma in the Maranoa District, Queensland and at Nungarin in the central wheatbelt of Western Australia," Mr Crean said.

"Farmers in the Maranoa District are facing severe financial difficulties as a result of low commodity prices and drought and up until now have not had access to a rural counselling service. The establishment of the new Commonwealth service at Roma will complement die State Farm Financial Counselling Service and bring to two the number of Commonwealth rural counsellors operating in Queensland.

"Wheat and sheep farmers in the central wheatbelt of Western Australia have not had direct access to a rural counsellor and have had to rely on neighbouring services which are not able to meet the high demand for assistance," he said.

The Central Highlands/Barwon Community Support Group based at Ballarat, in Victoria, commenced operations in July last year. The region has a large and varied farming population winch has required more assistance than its one rural counsellor can effectively manage. The group expects that the appointment of a second counsellor, to work in the eastern part of the region, will effectively meet the demand which has grown steadily since

the service commenced.

"Through the rural counselling program, farming families are able to obtain free financial and associated personal counselling on issues affecting the operation of the farm," Mr Crean said.

"Counsellors are required to have training in farm financial analysis and be familiar with State and Commonwealth assistance programs as well as other community services available to rural families."

The two new services and the second counsellor for the Central Highlands/Barwon Group will bring to 70 the total number of rural counsellors being funded by the Commonwealth.

Further Information: Catherine Payne (Minister's Office) (06) 277 7520 Mike Stocker (Department) (06) 272 4778

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Telephone: (06)277 7520 Facsimile: (06)273 4120