The Australian government is to provide an extra $5.9 million as part of a scheme intended to improve farmers’ financial wellbeing, the Weekly Times Now has reported.
The money will go to funding the work of 17 more full-time financial counsellors, who will focus on regions and sectors suffering debt hurdles. They will also help farmers who have been severely affected by natural disasters. Currently, there are 10 financial counsellors working across the country under the scheme.
The sum will be sufficient to support five additional financial counsellors in Queensland, three in New South Wales, three in Victoria, three in Western Australia, two in Tasmania and one in South Australia.
The funds, to be released as part of the government’s Farm Finance Package, will be rolled out over two years. The money will ensure farmers have access to free financial advice that will help them better handle debt and alleviate their financial burden, agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon said. The financial counsellors will provide assistance to farmers, fishers and small rural firms experiencing financial troubles, he added.
The counsellors will be mobile and approachable in a number of locations. They will be most active where demand is greatest, giving farmers access to financial information and options to cover debt.