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Review aims to strengthen rural financial counselling services.

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BACK Home | Media Releases DAFF04/66T - 31 August 2004

Review aims to strengthen Rural Financial Counselling Services

DAFF04/66T 31 August 2004

The 2004-05 Review of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) is an opportunity to improve and strengthen rural financial counselling services in the bush, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Judith Troeth said today.

"The RFCS has played a valuable role in assisting farm families in difficult times, particularly during drought," Senator Troeth said. "This year's Federal Budget allocation of $23.3 million to continue the service for a further four years recognises this vital role.

"The 2004-05 Review is an opportunity to assess the program's effectiveness in targeting areas of need, with the end result of delivering an improved service to rural clients."

Senator Troeth said the review would be run by the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) - an independent committee of primary producers and agribusiness professionals.

"The review committee will also consider approaches to corporate governance, delivery of rural financial counselling services, and suggestions for future guidelines for funding applications," Senator Troeth said. "This review provides an excellent opportunity for rural and regional Australia to make its views on the service known, to raise any concerns and to suggest any improvements.

"NRAC Chair, Wayne Cornish will head the review committee, which includes Bill Anscombe, a senior lecturer in Human Services and Social Work at Charles Sturt University, and Rudi Cinc, Chair of the National Association of Rural Counselling Services.

Senator Troeth said the review committee had the right mix of skills and expertise to review the RFCS.

"The RFCS Review Committee is committed to an open and transparent process, and will consult with stakeholders, industry members and interested parties to seek their views on the RFCS program. The RFCS has made an outstanding contribution to rural communities in tough times and the review process should help us identify its strengths and future directions.

"I have asked the committee to provide me with a written report outlining its recommendations by the end of October 2004, for consideration by the Australian Government.

The Rural Financial Counselling Service is a long-standing community-based program that provides free financial information and referrals to primary producers, fishing enterprises and small rural businesses in rural Australia which are experiencing financial hardship and have no other source of financial information.

The review committee will conduct face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders in all States, and will also be accepting public submissions. The closing date for public submissions is Friday 1 October 2004.

People who wish to make a submission can access an information paper, by emailing, by calling 1800 686 175 or by visiting the RFCS website: Submissions can also be posted to the Review Secretariat, Rural Financial Counselling Service, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, GPO Box 858, Barton, ACT 2601.

Further media inquiries:

Senator Troeth's office: Allison Murphy (02)6277 3002 or 0408 917 639


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