Help for farmers and regional small business in Western Victoria

The Rural Financial Counselling Service has been a trusted community partner in business support since 1986.

Confidential, Independent and Local

Services Overview...

Wellbeing Support

Our wellbeing team was established to work alongside our financial counsellors.

We help clients deal with their wellbeing because we are aware that the stresses of financial challenges can take their toll. 

Small Business Support provides a range of services for small business owners operating through challenging times.

We can help you formulate a business plan, identify solutions for cash flow, and consolidate loans.  

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Small Business Support

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We help you assess your financial position, identify opportunities and weigh up options.

We can help with succession planning, negotiate with banks, apply for grants and much more. 

Financial Counselling

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Latest News

RFCS Victoria West is heading to Torquay this week to embark on its annual training conference. 

The conference is a rare opportunity for stakeholders to catch up face to face. Delegates will participate in team building exercises and learn more about current challenges facing farmers and small business owners. Off the back of a global pandemic and with severe weather events occuring more often, people in rural areas are feeling the pinch, both financially and mentally. The role of RFCS counsellors is to help clients navigate the pitfalls of running farms or small businesses through trying times. Engaging with stakeholders and training is a critical ingredient in ensuring the skills of RFCS staff are as good as they can be, and help ensure that they offer the best guidance possible.

This year, a range of highly experienced speakers will enlighten the team on various aspects of farm business and challenges for mental health. Rural Bank representatives will outline their thoughts on the Economic Outlook for the Ag Industry. Cam Nicholson from Nicon Rural Services will speak on Decision Making and Farm Carbon Credits.  A panel of community engagement workers from Meli, CAFS, and Anglicare will discuss Gambling Behaviour – how it is affecting rural communities, what we can do to address addiction, and how we can minimise the fallout?

Besides guest speakers, sessions will be held using case studies with open discussions on particular challenges and approaches for best outcomes. Formal training concludes with a discussion about what the organisation has learned in 2023 and what we expect to face in the coming year.

For an organisation that covers half of Victoria with staff based in several rural and regional towns, it is vitally important for opportunities like annual conferences to help unite people and share experiences. While RFCS pride themselves on face to face visits with clients, their staff most commonly communicate with each other via online services like video calls or emails. But while technology provides efficiencies in this area, there’s nothing quite like meeting somebody in the flesh to form a strong working relationship and Torquay is especially anticipated for new staff members who will be putting faces to names.

RFCS Victorial West would like to thank event sponsors Melbourne Convention Bureau and Business Events Victoria with their assistance in holding this important event.

Download Official Training Day Program here.

13 November 2023

Annual Training Conference

Photo of conference venue: The Sands Hotel in Torquay, Victoria


Flood recovery grants final claim date extended.

The claim date for applicants who successfully applied for a Primary Producer Flood Recovery grant for the October 2022 floods and storms has been extended from 13 January 2024 to 31 May 2024.

This date extension applies to successful applicants of the:

  • Primary Producer Flood Recovery Grant
  • Rural Landholder Grant
  • Transport Support Program
  • This extension provides primary producers and rural landholders additional time to undertake their recovery activities and finalise their claims for Tier 2 payments.

    While an extension has been provided, grant recipients are encouraged to make their re-imbursement claims as soon as possible.

    If you need more information or some assistance in claiming further payments, give RFCS a call or head to the Agriculture Victoria website.

    9 November 2023

    Extension to Flood Recovery Grant Claims

    A flooded vineyard in the Mildura region of Victoria


    Rural Financial Counselling Service Victoria West’s (RFCS VicWest) spirits were not dampened as the team joined a wet and windy Elmore Field Days from Monday October 3 to Thursday October 5.

    Members of the RFCS VicWest team took to the grounds in Elmore to talk with farmers and business owners about where they’re at and what support they may need now and into the future.

    RFCS VicWest Executive Officer David Stafford said it was a brilliant event and continued to highlight the ways in which the service works directly with its community.

    “’How am I going? What can I do’ is a question for many farmers in the region who we’ve recently assisted with flood recovery grants – so hitting the ground running this year at Elmore Field Days was another key milestone for our 2023,” he said.

    “Elmore Field Days is a great opportunity for our team to learn about current issues affecting the farming and small business community as they happen.

    “Our counsellors are passionate about their work because they live in the region, many from farming backgrounds themselves. When they visit a client at their farm, the connection is real – there’s a sincerity about helping one of their own.

    “With counsellors that come to a client’s home, farm or business, and short waiting lists, our service maintains a positive and trusted reputation within rural and regional communities. We thank the Elmore Field Days committee for again welcoming us to their event.”

    RFCS has been working with farmers since 1986, and as a not-for-profit business offers free and confidential support for them and small business owners across Western Victoria. The service also includes wellbeing support for clients and their families.

    Storm events, droughts, floods, and bushfire are common reasons for calling the RFCS for help, but less obvious is the assistance we can provide for farmers and small business owners facing climbing interest rates and rising costs.

    Aside from clarifying your financial position, our counsellors can negotiate with lenders or creditors on your behalf. They can assist with a refinancing strategy, debt mediation, and exit or succession planning if you’re ready to retire and hand over the farm or business to one or more of your children.

    5 October 2023

    RFCS VicWest hits the ground at Elmore Field Days

    Bendigo-Swan Hill, News

    In a time when mental health issues in the farming community are at an all-time high, the Wellbeing team at Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) Victoria West have developed Talk the Talk, a workshop specifically designed for rural suppliers and service providers to make it easier to talk to farmers about their mental health.

    Designed by Wellbeing Counsellor Ann-Marie Byrne, and Community Liaison Jo Beard, the workshop teaches participants about awareness, observation skills and strategies, while providing easy to use techniques. As an experienced counsellor in regional and rural Victoria, Ann-Marie is sensitive to the isolated nature of the industry and how best to speak to farmers. Choosing the right environment and knowing how to start a conversation are two key factors. Knowing what you can do to support somebody and being aware of other professional providers that can help is just part of a comprehensive approach taken in Talk the Talk.

    The second of these workshops is scheduled for the Cobden Recreation Reserve on Friday 11 August.

    Invitations are going out to a broad cross section of the farm sector supply chain including vets, ag suppliers, medical providers, contractors, and tanker drivers. Individuals or businesses with an investment in their rural community are encouraged to participate.

    For more information about upcoming workshops or to express an interest in attending/hosting this free, 3-hour workshop, please contact Jo Beard via email:

    9 August 2023

    Talk the Talk set for Cobden

    News, Wellbeing

    The impact of the ongoing flood crisis throughout Victoria will be felt by many communities well after the waters recede.

    Financial burden, feelings of stress, anxiety and loss can be overwhelming during times of crisis.  We know how difficult it can be to know when or how to reach out for help but we are always here looking out for people just like you. And it’s as easy as a making a phone call.

    Our Rural Financial Counsellors (RFCs) and Wellbeing Counsellors (WBCs) are on the ground, working in local communities alongside farmers and small business owners. They live in the area and understand local conditions. Most importantly, they care for rural communities.

    We can arrange to meet with you on the farm, at your business or another convenient location.

    Contact us on 1300 735 578 or request a call for an initial chat with one of team.



    Government Flood Grants are now closed for flood events that occurred from October 2022 to January 2023. We know that repurcussions from the floods are still being felt, however, and we are still available to help those affected by the disaster. Our financial counsellors can help you identify options, negotiate with insurers and much more to help you get back on your feet.

    Find out more about Rural Financial Support here.

    Find out more about Small Business Support here.



    Times of crisis can be overwhelming.  The impact can be felt immediately and for months after the event has passed.  Everyone is affected differently.

    Planning and decision-making can be difficult, especially when life has a number of distractions and disruptions. Focusing on your wellbeing is just as important as finding solutions to practical and financial problems. It will assist in a holistic recovery and make you stronger than you ever thought possible.

    Our wellbeing team work alongside our rural and small business financial counsellors to ensure that your state of mind receives as much attention as your bank balance. The wellbeing team has been established specifically for small business owners, farmers and their families.

    Support is Free and Confidential. Find out more about our Wellbeing service here.

    25 July 2023

    Flood Recovery


    Applications for the Federal Government Flood Assistance Grant close on the 13th July 2023.

    The Rural Financial Counselling Service is available to help primary producers affected by floods from
    November 2022 in completing an application for the grant.

    Simply call the RFCS on 1300 735 578 to organise a free and confidential appointment. But hurry, time
    is running out.

    22 June 2023

    Last chance for Flood Assistance Grant



    In farming we all have different stress levels of what we’re doing. If you want to know where you’re going with things, and there’s lots of aspects to it, it’s not just budgeting, there’s succession planning, there’s approaching banks, there’s lots of arms in what they (RFCS) do and they’re very good at all those things.

    .Our stress levels have reduced a heck of a lot and mentally we (well I) feel a lot better because I know exactly what direction we’re going in.

    Our Service Area

    Our team covers the entire Western Victoria region. Unlike other services in the sector, the vast majority of our client consultations are face to face, so get the kettle on and save your petrol tickets, we’re on our way to you.

    Working within these West Victoria shires

    Great South Coast - Barwon

    Hamilton - Central Highlands

    Bendigo - Swan Hill

    Wimmera - Southern Mallee

    Sunraysia - Millewa