In the last financial year we have:
Secured a new 3 year funding contract for our existing service area from the Federal Government (National Recovery and Resilience Agency)
Secured a contract for an additional service area, being the NSW Central Region service area
Continued providing financial counselling to small businesses in rural and regional NSW under a pilot project from the Federal Government
Welcomed two new members to the board, now totalling 7. A warm welcome to Fiona Jolly and Anita Kemp
We submitted a response to the government’s call for tender late in 2020 and the result was announced at the end of the third quarter, which left less time than had been planned to reestablish our existing service area and absorb the new service area of the NSW Central Region service. However, our executive team had plans in waiting and were able to push the ‘green button’ on the appropriate plan. To their credit, the transition to the new company has gone with few hiccups, given we have a vastly enlarged service area covering both rural and small business financial counselling. They are to be congratulated. Our service area will now extend from Tibooburra in the north-west of the state to Eden in the southeast, from the border of SA to the coast south of Sydney – in other words 78% of NSW.
SMALL BUSINESS FINANCIAL COUNSELLING
This pilot project has been of great benefit to many small businesses in rural and regional NSW, as they struggle with the economic downturn brought on by drought, bushfires, floods, and COVID-19. The original concept was to extend the same services we provide to farmers, but to those small businesses in rural and regional towns that are also feeling the pinch, and this has worked very well as evidenced by the REWiRE program results and testimonials we have received from relieved clients. We never fail to remind stakeholders that what constitutes a small business (less than 20 employees) might well be a small business in a metropolitan context, but in rural and regional areas may well be the largest employer in town. The knock-on effect of business failures in these small towns can be large in terms of economy, employment, service availability, confidence, and wellbeing. Our Business Coaches, who live in these communities, help their communities survive and put plans in place to thrive in these challenging times.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS
We welcome Anita Kemp (Wagga Wagga) and Fiona Jolly (Queanbeyan) to our board. Our board members are chosen to help us maintain a matrix of skills and a geographic representation across our area. Our board members serve for three terms of three years each plus one year, making ten years in all. This refreshes the board and their skills over time, keeping the RFCS ready to meet the challenges of a changing business, social and agricultural landscape.
The National Recovery and Resilience Agency under the Hon. Shane Stone has been established to help communities recover from natural disasters such as drought, bushfires, and COVID-19. More importantly perhaps, one of its aims is to help build resilience and preparedness across our rural and regional communities. The 10 Rural Financial Counselling Service regions nationally, will report to the NRRA as the agency delivering RFCS funding from 1 July 2021.