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Campaspe financial counsellors get a funding boost.



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Campaspe financial counsellors get a funding boost

AFFA03/039T 17 July 2003

The Commonwealth Government is providing more than $48,000 to help farmers in Victoria’s Campaspe region cope with the economic and social impacts of the drought, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Judith Troeth announced today.

Senator Troeth said the Campaspe region — known for its dairying and fruit growing — has been hard-hit by one of the worst droughts on record, with eligible producers receiving Exceptional Circumstances support since February 2003.

“Today’s funding comes from the Commonwealth’s Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS) program and will support a project designed to provide 12 months financial counselling for rural businesses experiencing regional water supply issues,” Senator Troeth said.

“Producers from a number of the industries within the region are having to look at new options due to the serious depletion in irrigation supplies,” the Senator said.

“Goulburn Valley (GV) Agcare — the community-based group that oversees the region’s rural financial counselling and development activities — will use today’s funding to run a series of workshops for producers from a range of industries.

“The workshops will be based on a successful model developed by the Dairy Industry Guidance Group and will provide producers with the opportunity to get together and discuss their circumstances and adjustment concerns. More personalised assistance can be arranged for at a later date if required.

“GV Agcare also plans to provide farmers with financial analyses of their businesses, assessments of their options for the future and, perhaps most importantly, a good understanding of the services and support programs available to them.

“The GV Agcare Committee will also work with representatives from the local catchment management authorities, to ensure a coordinated approach to managing regional water supply issues.

Senator Troeth said the RFCS program, which is part of the Commonwealth Government’s Agriculture - Advancing Australia (AAA) initiative, funds non-profit industry or community groups in rural areas to help them employ skilled financial counsellors.

“The program employs over 80 counsellors across Australia in 65

regionally based centres,” the Senator said.

“The Commonwealth recognises the important role the program plays, particularly in helping farmers recover from this widespread drought, and recently demonstrated its commitment to supporting communities by confirming a funding allocation of $5.5 million to the RFCS program for 2003-04.

Further information on the Rural Financial Counselling Service program is available by calling 1800 686 175 (free call), or by visiting its web site — www.affa.gov.au/financialcounselling

Further media inquiries:

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