THE Federal Government has injected an exra $15 million into the Rural Financial Counselling Service as another measure to help bushfire-affected farmers.
Federal Agriculture Minister, Bridget McKenzie, said the money would help employ 60 more rural financial counsellors and support workers.
"We've seen a massive scale of destruction - from vineyards, orchards and forestry plantations to livestock herds and abalone farms - so we're boosting the RFCS to help our farmers through the difficult financial decisions they may be facing," Senator McKenzie said.
"Existing rural financial counsellors are already on the ground working with communities and assessing needs.
"We expect demand for these services to grow as the situation unfolds and people return to their properties to evaluate the damage.
"We're committed to getting the right support to the places it's most needed. That's why we are recruiting an additional 60 rural financial counsellors and support workers," she said.
"Early assistance will be critical to help farmers apply for support payments, complete insurance claims and get in touch with the right people for broader services.
"It can be difficult to properly assess what it may take to recover. RFCS will also provide longerterm financial counselling to help farmers better understand their financial position and make decisions in response to bushfires and ongoing drought conditions.
"For more than 35 years the RFCS has provided free financial counselling to farmers, foresters, fishers and related small businesses in times of need.
"There are now about 120 counsellors located within key agricultural communities across Australia.
"Not only are RFCS staff well-qualified to do this work, but as part of these communities they have also seen the impact of bushfires up close.
"When you are ready, if you need help in assessing the financial position of your farm business, understanding what support might be available, and developing a plan to move forward, get in contact with your nearest RFCS office by calling 1800 686 175."