Eyre Peninsula Tribune, Billie Harrison 11 Apr 2016
EYRE Peninsula primary producers will continue to be able to access Rural Financial Counselling Services for at least three more years under a new funding round starting this month.
Federal member for Grey Rowan Ramsey welcomed the state and federal funding package of $47 million through to 2019.
“People who live and work in rural and remote communities have to deal with hardships such as unpredictable climate and market conditions, financial strain, social isolation, long working hours and reduced access to services,” Mr Ramsey said.
“Statistics show farming communities in Australia experience mental health problems at twice the rate of the general population and suicide rates are alarmingly high in country areas.
“Obviously there are many drivers exacerbating mental health outcomes in the country, but we simply cannot ignore the direct impact of severe financial stress.”
Mr Ramsey said twelve service providers around Australia would be able to continue their work helping farming families, including Rural Business Support Service Incorporated in South Australia.
More than 5000 clients across Australia accessed Rural Financial Counselling Services last year, which Mr Ramsey said was a clear indication of how valuable it was to farming businesses.
In addition to farmers, fishing enterprises and small related businesses that are in financial hardship being eligible, forest growers and harvesters will now also be able to access the counselling service.
Mr Ramsey said the federal government was also implementing improvements flowing from the National Rural Advisory Council’s 2014 review, including increased flexibility to boost resources in areas where there is a spike in demand, such as communities hit by drought, flood and other events.
Rural financial counsellors can help identify financial and business options, help negotiate with lenders, help develop an action plan, help access the Farm Household Allowance, provide information about government and other assistance schemes, and provide referrals to other services.