Barnaby Joyce

Extra support for COVID-affected regional businesses

17 Jun 2020

Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed a $4.7 million boost for the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) to support small regional businesses facing hardship due to COVID-19. 
 
This additional funding incorporates 18 more financial counsellors and nine support workers including an extra five staff across the state and at least 1.5 equivalent staff in the Northern NSW region. 
 
“Already we have RFCS professionals based in five locations across the New England - Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell, Scone and Tamworth - providing free and confidential financial counselling to drought-affected farming households,” Mr Joyce said. 
 
“It includes three staff specifically tasked to providing small business support, referral and advocacy. 
 
“This extra funding recognises the added burden borne by small regional businesses now also affected by a continued downturn in trade from COVID-19.” 
   
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the funding would help eligible small businesses access the immediate advice and assistance they need to keep afloat and navigate the road to recovery. 
 
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our regional communities and we know that many are struggling through drought and trying to recover from this season's devastating bushfires,” Mr Littleproud said. 
 
“This measure is designed to ensure that businesses remain resilient through COVID-19 and are able to rebound when normal trading conditions resume. 
 
“This funding is in addition to the $7 million already provided for small business financial counselling services in drought-affected communities.” 
 
The funding is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund, which is delivering targeted assistance to regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 
 
If your business requires extra help, contact the Northern Region’s RFCS Small Business program staff below, visit agriculture.gov.au or call 1300 771 741 for more info and to locate your nearest support.
 
Sandy Stanford based in Tamworth: New England – 0418 741 967 
Bill Colless based in Inverell – 0428 098 841 
Paula Hilliard based in Casino: Northern Rivers – 0418 503 297  
 
(ENDS)