A new Family and Business (FaB) mentor has been appointed in the Northern Adelaide Plains to work directly with farmers impacted by the recent devastating hailstorms as part of a Marshall Liberal Government multi-million-dollar boost to the program.
An additional $2.2 million is being provided over three years to support farmers in hardship, through the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) and by extending the Family and Business (FaB) Support Program.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said farmers having access to the new Northern Adelaide Plains mentor is an important tool in the recovery process.
“Our new FaB mentor, Phuong Le, will be based at the Storm Support Centre at the Virginia Horticulture Centre and as a trusted community member, there will be a focus on the local Vietnamese community,” Minister Basham said.
“The FaB mentor program and RFCS have been extended as the Marshall Liberal Government understands the importance of supporting our farmers during the tough times.
“Hail, wind, drought, bushfires, COVID-19, market impacts and fruit fly have been just some of the varied issues placing a strain on our farmers.
“While the sector has shown remarkable resilience, we are work alongside farmers to provide this valuable practical support.
“Our commitment sees the important work of 14 FaBS mentors continue across the regions, with the program working collaboratively with RFCS to ensure affected producers receive appropriate support.
Since it was launched more than 600 farmers have accessed the FaB mentor program across the state.
“The FaBS program is a peer support network, using locally-based mentors to meet with people one-on-one, on the ground,” Minister Basham said.
“This has been critical in ensuring people are able to access technical advice, assistance and other support measures available through government, non-government, community and charity networks.”
Additional funding for the Rural Financial Counselling Service, a program provided by Rural Business Support since 2006, follows a period of significant demand, RBS CEO Brett Smith said.
RBS assists primary producers and small business owners in financial or situational distress to assess their situation and develop a plan to navigate their way forward while developing tools to build future business resilience.
Through RBS, Business Financial Counsellors help rural and regional business families to develop budgets and cash flows, negotiate with creditors, access dispute resolution services and understand when and how to seek broader professional advice and government support.
“Demand for this service over the last 12 months has been nearly triple what we would expect to see in a non-drought period, even before the spring storms,” Mr Smith said.
“We currently have 11 offices across SA and one in the NT. Our service is free, independent and confidential, and our financial counsellors live and work in the communities they serve,” he said.
“By partnering with the PIRSA FaBS mentors, recovery efforts can commence faster, using locally implemented strategies with staff who genuinely understand and care about the unique needs of their community.
“There is a growing sense of awareness of the requirement for ongoing support in rural and regional South Australia, but there is also a need to ensure that we are helping to prepare primary producers and small business owners to be more resilient when faced with extreme challenges and situations that are largely outside of their control.
“In the last 18 months, RBS has directly supported more than 2,950 primary producers and small business owners to navigate their way through financial difficulty and distress.
“This State Government funding will provide valuable on-the-ground support for those who are still working through challenging times.”
To get in touch with a FaBS mentor, please call the PIRSA Recovery Hotline on 1800 931 314 or visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/fabs
To get in touch with a Business Financial Counsellor, please call 1800 836 211 or visit www.ruralbusinesssupport.org.au