Bushfire affected sheep farming family supported to develop clear recovery plan

*Jack, his wife *Kate and their son were among the thousands of Australian families impacted by last summer’s bushfires. The family, who operate a medium size commercial sheep farm, lost their house, a number of farm sheds and the majority of their fencing in the devastating Kangaroo Island fire.

Both Jack and Kate were receiving Farm Household Allowance (FHA) when they first made contact with RBS. While Jack had secured a number of grants including a bushfire recovery payment, he sought out the support of RBS to work with him on a Bushfire Recovery Loan to facilitate the redevelopment of his farm.

When our financial counsellor first met Jack he came across as being quite congenial – although he suspected that given the devastation Jack’s family had experienced, there must have been a reasonably high level of stress and trauma. Connecting with Jack and gaining his trust was therefore a high priority.

Our counsellor’s view was that to truly meet the need of this client, he had to be fully aware of the recovery needs and the financial impact. They drove and walked over the farming property so that Jack could show our RFC the impact of the fire and openly talk through options and costs in moving forward. Without fences the property was destocked, so one vital task was to discuss options in that regard – address immediate needs.

With alternative housing already acquired, the real need was to support Jack in the development of a recovery loan which would facilitate the re-establishment of their farm. The RFC also referred Jack to his accountant to talk through taxation implications and advice.

Although Jack essentially had a strong recovery plan in his mind, working together with the RFC on the loan application allowed this plan to be fine-tuned. Jack was organised and had ready access to all financial, insurance and other information that was required, however it was all in paper form.

The plan needed to reflect Jack’s thoughts, but be in a form that would be approved by the loan agency. Our RFC needed to help crystalise the thoughts, ideas and rough projections that Jack had worked on, then support him to collate them and create a clear, strong and well-documented recovery plan.

As a result of our support, Jack’s eventual recovery plan truly reflected his view and needs and was suitable for the loan agency assessing his application – and was approved.

With the support of RBS, Jack was able to build the confidence he needed to increase his capability to make decisions after the terribly traumatic experience that he and his young family had lived through.

Jack now has a clear, strong plan for his family and farm to recover from the tragic events of last summer and they are in a sound financial position.

*RBS services are strictly confidential. Not the clients’ real names – used for this case study to ensure client privacy.