Fire affected farmers and small businesses in Adelaide Hills urged to utilise free and confidential RBS assistance

As the response to the recent fires turns to helping Adelaide Hills communities get back on their feet, Rural Business Support (RBS) has expanded its services to help eligible farmers and small business owners to develop and implement plans to recover.

Building on the support that RBS rural financial counsellors provide to primary producers under the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), a new Small Business Financial Counselling (SBFC) program is now available to assist eligible small business owners beyond the farm gate.

Both of these services are free, independent and confidential.

To support farmers and small businesses in the Adelaide Hills, RBS has recently welcomed two Hills locals to its team – rural financial counsellor Tim Modra, of Nairne, and small business financial counsellor Cheree Reichl, of Aldgate.

The two appointments are the result of additional funding for RBS from the Australian and South Australian governments; the Small Business Financial Counselling position is supported through joint funding from the South Australian Disaster Small Business Transformation and Growth Program.

RBS was actively involved in supporting people to work through the decisions that had to be made following the Sampson Flat and Pinery fires, so offers experienced and empathic support for rural business owners affected by the Cudlee Creek fire to assess their options and find a way forward.

RBS CEO Brett Smith said that talking with a financial counsellor could help people to navigate a way through uncertainty.

“Whether it’s looking at financial assistance and bushfire relief payments that can tide a household over until income levels improve, exploring new loan options with banks or through the Regional Investment Corporation, or business transfer or exit plans, these are just some of the ways our team can lead business owners through the decision-making process,” Mr Smith said.

“It can be challenging to ask for help, and this is where our financial counsellors can throw around some suggestions and perhaps provide a bit of clarity during what may otherwise seem a pretty uncertain and overwhelming time.”

Financial counsellors can provide support with:

  • Preparing for talks with insurance companies, banks and lenders
  • Preparing cash flow forecasts to meet financial obligations
  • Clarifying and prioritising the activities required
  • Considering business development/redevelopment scenarios
  • Looking at mid to long term business goals and strategies to manage business risks
  • Developing and implementing plans to return to ‘normal’ operations

With COVID-19 now causing additional uncertainty, RBS financial counsellors have up to date information on financial relief options for small businesses during this difficult time. These include:

  • Australian Government assistance such as the JobKeeper payment, which could help with keeping staff on the books and provide financial relief for a time.
  • Exploring AgBiz loan options through the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC).
  • Discussing financial situations with lenders. Can the bank relax loan terms for a time? At the moment some banks are offering interest rate relief and non-secured loan terms.
  • Cash Flow Boost: Eligible businesses and not-for-profit organisations will receive a tax-free cash flow boost of between $20,000 and $100,000 through credits in the activity statement system when they lodge their activity statements up to the month or quarter of September 2020.

To gauge your eligibility for RBS support and be connected with a financial counsellor please call RBS on 1800 836 211.

About Cheree Reichl
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Cheree has lived in Aldgate for more than 10 years and values the culture, community and diversity of the Adelaide Hills. With a background in business management, agribusiness and commercial banking, she is looking forward to working alongside small business owners to help them get their businesses back on track after the devastation of the fires.

Quote from Cheree Reichl:

“The impact of the fires has been felt not only by the businesses that lost infrastructure, but also by those that did not suffer physical losses of plant and equipment. Many have suffered significant financial losses due to reduced sales.

“Many have been suggesting that they ‘haven’t been affected significantly enough’ to need support. But every dollar that a business owner has lost, by way of reduced revenue, is one less dollar in the community.

“I can work with eligible business people to access funding and develop tools to improve their business, to not only help them, but to also help our community.”

About Tim Modra
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Farming is in Tim’s blood – he grew up on the family farm at Western Flat near Bordertown. He later spent 12 years in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as a Captain in the Army, which included postings to Canberra, Darwin and Woodside, including a deployment to Afghanistan.

After finishing with the ADF and completing his Masters in Agribusiness Management, Tim moved to a role with Rabobank based out of Adelaide for two years.

In his spare time Tim enjoys heading to his farm at Mount Barker Springs, where a mix of sheep and cattle keep him entertained.

Quote from Tim Modra:

“I’m looking forward to work through both the old and new challenges faced by the Adelaide Hills and Murrylands communities in this role.

“I’ve always had a passion for understanding rural business and seeking opportunities and I can’t wait to put those skillsets into practice.”