The Regional Small Business Support Program pilot provides financial counselling and related services for small regional businesses employing 19 or less people facing hardship due to drought, COVID-19 the 2019-20 bushfires or the March 2022 flood event in Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
The total Australian Government investment in the program is $25.7 million.
The pilot program is being delivered through the Rural Financial Counselling Service to 31 December 2022.
This free and independent service supports small, regional businesses in Modified Monash Model 2 to 7 regions to remain resilient while facing a downturn and maintain the capacity to rebound when normal trading conditions resume.
Regional small business financial counsellors are located in twelve Rural Financial Counselling Service regions across Australia and, with a focus on the case management approach, assist clients to:
- understand their financial position
- understand the benefits and drawbacks of different options to manage financial issues
- develop budgets and cash flows
- negotiate with creditors
- access dispute resolution services
- understand their rights and access broader professional advice and support
- access government and community grants, programs or schemes.
Regional Small Business Financial Counsellors do not give family, emotional or social counselling or financial advice. They refer clients to other professional services, including accountants, legal services and mental health services.
The program launched in January 2020 as the Drought Communities Small Business Support Program pilot and was managed by the then Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
On 1 July 2021, the pilot transferred to the National Recovery and Resilience Agency.
On 25 November 2021, the Australian Government extended the pilot for an additional 12 months to 31 December 2022 and it was renamed the Regional Small Business Support Program pilot to more accurately reflect its expanded remit.
To be eligible to receive counselling, a small business must
- employ 19 or fewer people
- be, in the opinion of the financial counsellor, experiencing, or at imminent risk of, financial hardship as a result of drought, COVID‑19, the 2019-20 bushfires or the March 2022 flood event in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.
- be located in a regional area (defined as ‘MMM2’ to ‘MMM7’ on the Department of Health’s Modified Monash rurality classification).
- be ineligible to access services under the existing RFCS Program.
To search for eligible areas visit www.health.gov.au/health-workforce-locator
Regional small business financial counsellors can be contacted through the local Rural Financial Counselling Service office.
Further program details are available in the program guidelines.
Questions related to the program can be submitted directly to the RFCS team at email@example.com.
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