New Darwin based RBS role to help drought-affected NT farmers and small businesses

Rural Business Support (RBS) is increasing its support to the Northern Territory with the appointment of a new full time Financial Counsellor based in Darwin – a timely appointment that will help farmers and small businesses to manoeuvre their way through the COVID-19 challenges.

The appointment of Peter Cottle fulfils a long time RBS goal to provide direct, localised support for NT primary producers. RBS is also extending its support to small businesses beyond the farm gate that are dealing with the impact of drought, with a new Small Business Financial Counselling program funded by the Australian Government.

The new Darwin based role expands on the support that RBS is already providing for primary producers through its delivery of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS). Rural Financial Counsellors Lloyd Wright and Lachie Hood travel to the NT to meet with clients and stakeholders up to eight times a year.

Both the RFCS and SBFC programs are free, independent and confidential for eligible clients.

Having a strong background in agriculture and project management, Peter is a strong believer in the untapped agricultural potential of Northern Australia.

He has extensive exposure to Australian agriculture. His experience extends from small family operations, to working in corporate agriculture, in roles across the country. For the past 14 years he has been based in Kununurra, Western Australia, operating a small agriculturally focused business. This has provided significant exposure to rangeland grazing, through to the irrigation of permanent and annual crops.

Peter says that while the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and changes the way Territorians do daily life, RBS can assist farmers, growers and now eligible small businesses to manoeuvre their business through the crisis.

“It may be difficult to see a clear way ahead at the moment, but there are options available to help businesses get through this and out the other side,” Peter said.

“These options may include Australian Government assistance such as the Farm Household Allowance (FHA), JobSeeker or JobKeeper payments, which could provide a level of financial relief for a time. Or perhaps it’s exploring whether a business loan through the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) can help.

“RBS can also support clients in talks with their lenders – is there potential for their bank to relax their loan terms for a time? At the moment some banks are offering welcomed interest rate relief and non-secured loan terms.

“Being locally based and committed to Northern Australia, I’m well positioned to help farmers and growers to take a look at their business and truly understand their financial position. Together, we can then come up with the strategies to navigate through the financial challenges of operating a small business in these uncertain times.”

RBS CEO Brett Smith said that talking with a financial counsellor with Peter’s extensive experience could help small business owners to navigate the daily demands of running their business and find a way forward.

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

RBS financial counsellors can support eligible small business operators to:

  • Consider different options to manage financial issues
  • Develop budgets and cash flows
  • Negotiate with creditors
  • Access dispute resolution services
  • Connect with broader professional advice and support
  • Apply for government and community grants, programs or schemes

To be eligible for the Small Business Financial Counselling program a small business needs to:

  • Employ 19 or fewer people
  • Be experiencing financial hardship, or at imminent risk of financial hardship
  • Be located in a drought-affected area

Supported by the Australian Government and Governments of South Australia and the Northern Territory, Rural Business Support is currently supporting more than 550 farmers and rural related businesses across SA and NT. To be connected with one of the RBS team call 1800 836 211 or go to

Download a photo of Peter Cottle here

Media enquiries:
Brett Smith – CEO of Rural Business Support: 0412 630 015 or email