FaB mentor appointed to Adelaide Plains in $2.2m extension

FaB mentor appointed to Adelaide Plains in $2.2m extension

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Northern Adelaide Plains farmers dealing with the impact of recent hailstorms have more support available.

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RBS CEO Brett Smith says demand for support has grown in recent months.

RBS CEO Brett Smith says demand for support has grown in recent months.

Northern Adelaide Plains farmers dealing with the impact of recent hailstorms have more support available.

A new Family and Business mentor has been appointed to the region to work directly with farmers, as part of a $2.2 million provided across the next three years to aid farmers in hardship through the Rural Financial Counselling Service and by extending the FaB support program.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said farmers having access to the new Northern Adelaide Plains mentor was 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," he said.

"The FaB mentor program and RFCS have been extended as the SA 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."

Mr Basham said more than 600 farmers have accessed the FaB mentor program across the state since it was launched.

"The FaBS program is a peer support network, using locally-based mentors to meet with people one-on-one, on the ground," he 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 chief executive officer 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.

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"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.

"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 SA, 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 2950 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 pir.sa.gov.au/fabs

To get in touch with a Business Financial Counsellor, please call 1800 836 211 or visit ruralbusinesssupport.org.au.

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