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.
Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS) across Victoria and Tasmania have come together to expand on ways to help farm and small business owners in rural and regional communities as the cost of living continues to rise.
More than 50 financial counsellors and wellbeing counsellors from RFCS Victoria West, RFCS Gippsland, RFCS Victoria North East, Rural Business Tasmania and representatives from Agriculture Victoria attended the Social Connection Training Conference in Melbourne recently.
It was a poignant conference based around how each not-for-profit service could better support their communities as the ripple effects of fire, flood, drought, inflation and COVID continues to impact.
A range of topics were covered including windfall tax, succession planning, negotiation skills, insurance claims and advanced techniques for wellbeing counsellors in dealing with clients.
RFCS Victoria West Executive Officer David Stafford, the host of the conference for 2023, said the past few years have highlighted the importance of social connection and quality service delivery.
“Our clients rely on us to provide the most up to date and relevant services in an ever-changing environment,” he said.
“Conferences like this provide opportunities for us to build on our experience and knowledge base and to feed a passion that is unique to not-for-profit organisations offering free service and support like ours.
“In the same week as the lights went out at the Gabba during an AFL match, many Victorian primary producers and rural small businesses are struggling to keep their own lights on. A succession of extreme weather events, COVID repercussions, fuel price hikes and interest rate rises has created financial and mental health concerns across the State, and it’s our job to help consider and present options to ease the pain for our clients.”