MEMBER for Lismore Janelle Saffin’s lobbying efforts have helped secure $5 million in State funding to extend the Rural Financial Counselling Service for another three years.
Ms Saffin, a longtime champion of the Service’s work in offering free financial planning and support services for local primary producers, said the extension was vital following unprecedented flooding in the Northern Rivers.
“I welcome NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders’s announcement because I raised the issue of reinstating funding to expand counselling services to farmers and small businesses directly with the Minister and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet,” Ms Saffin said.
“The Minister, in keeping with protocol and good manners, invited me to attend the announcement with him, but I am isolating due to Covid.
“A reduction in funding meant that distressed farmers were contacting my office, discovering they no longer had access to the counsellor they had come to rely upon and they were worried about the impact this would have on them.
“They told me this was one of their lifelines; one of the services helping them through what is an extremely difficult time, off the back of other difficult times, namely Covid and the 2019 Black Summer bushfires.
“I’m elated that funding of the Rural Financial Counselling Service now will continue through to 2025, allowing its counsellors to keep doing great work on the ground.”
There are 50 Rural Financial Counsellors working in regional communities statewide, covering financial planning, succession planning, farm debt mediation and guiding primary producers on accessing government assistance.
Local primary producers can contact the Rural Financial Counselling Services – Northern Region on 1800 344 090 or at www.rfcsnr.org.au