Kangaroo Islands fire affected farmers and small businesses urged to utilise expanded Rural Business Support assistance

Rural Business Support CEO Brett Smith at Island Beehive in Kingcote on Kangaroo Island last year.

Rural Business Support CEO Brett Smith at Island Beehive in Kingcote on Kangaroo Island last year.

As the response to the recent bushfires turns to helping the Kangaroo Island community get back on its feet, there is extra business support on the Island.

Rural Business Support (RBS) has expanded its services to help eligible fire impacted farmers and small business owners to develop and implement plans to recover.

Building on the support that rural financial counsellors Russell Trainor and Grant Crettenden have been providing to primary producers on the Island, local Kingscote business coach, Darren Keenan, and experienced producer Trevor Linke, are the latest additions to the RBS team.

Trevor will support eligible KI producers under the RBS Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), while Darren joins the new RBS Small Business Financial Counselling (SBFC) program team.

Both services are free, independent and confidential to eligible clients.

The two appointments are the result of additional funding for RBS from the Australian and South Australian governments; the Small Business Financial Counselling position is supported through joint funding from the South Australian Disaster Small Business Transformation and Growth Program.

RBS was actively involved in supporting people to work through the decisions that had to be made following the Sampson Flat and Pinery fires, so offers experienced and empathic support for business owners to assess their options and find a way forward.

RBS CEO Brett Smith said that talking with a financial counsellor could help people to navigate a way through uncertainty.

"Whether it's looking at financial assistance and bushfire relief payments that can tide a household over until income levels improve, exploring new loan options through the Regional Investment Corporation, or business transfer or exit plans, these are just some of the ways our team can lead business owners through the decision-making process," Mr Smith said.

"It can be challenging to ask for help, and this is where our financial counsellors can throw around some suggestions and perhaps provide a bit of clarity during what may otherwise seem a pretty uncertain and overwhelming time."

  • Financial counsellors can provide support with:
  • Preparing for talks with insurance companies, banks and lenders
  • Preparing cash flow forecasts to meet financial obligations
  • Clarifying and prioritising the activities required
  • Considering business development/redevelopment scenarios
  • Looking at mid to long term business goals and strategies to manage business risks
  • Developing and implementing plans to return to 'normal' operations

RBS financial counsellors have up to date information on financial relief options for small businesses during this difficult time. These include:

  • Federal Government assistance such as the JobKeeper payment, which could help with keeping staff on the books and provide financial relief for a time.
  • Exploring AgBiz loan options through the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC).
  • Discussing financial situations with lenders. Can the bank relax loan terms for a time? At the moment some banks are offering interest rate relief and non-secured loan terms.
  • Cash Flow Boost: From 28 April 2020, eligible businesses and not-for-profit organisations will receive a tax-free cash flow boost of between $20,000 and $100,000 through credits in the activity statement system when they lodge their activity statements up to the month or quarter of September 2020.

Mr Smith is also urging Islanders to take stock of where they're at with their health and wellbeing; encouraging farmers to look out for themselves, their family and their neighbours through a range of support services.

"If you are starting to feel like you're not coping, contact your local GP or the Regional Access Network, a free counselling service for people living in regional SA. Another useful, free and farmer- specific resource is www.ifarmwell.com.au," Mr Smith said.

To gauge your eligibility for RBS support and be connected with a financial counsellor please call RBS on 1800 836 211 or visit www.ruralbusinesssupport.org.au to find out more.

Darren Keenan - Small Business Financial Counsellor, Kangaroo Island

Darren Keenan - Small Business Financial Counsellor, Kangaroo Island

About Darren Keenan - Small Business Financial Counsellor:

Darren has recently been appointed to work with business owners on Kangaroo Island who have been impacted by the Kangaroo Island fire. Residing on Kangaroo Island for the past 10 years, Darren brings a broad background of experience for working with businesses across all sectors. His work has included planning, change management, coaching/mentoring and supporting owners to better understand financial matters pertaining to their business. Darren is also the Executive Officer of Agriculture Kangaroo Island and the Presiding Member of the Kangaroo Island Health Advisory Council. A previous project Darren led was the establishment of Business Kangaroo Island. Darren loves nothing more than to see his clients succeed and realise their true potential.

Trevor Linke - Rural Financial Counsellor, Kangaroo Island.

Trevor Linke - Rural Financial Counsellor, Kangaroo Island.

About Trevor Linke - Rural Financial Counsellor:

Trevor has been appointed to work with primary producers on Kangaroo Island. With experience in providing business and financial support to various farming sectors across South Australia, Trevor and his son operate a 120-acre farm at Willunga, where they run Murray Grey and Angus-cross cattle and various irrigation pursuits including pasture, crops and vegetables. Trevor worked with the Vietnamese and Cambodian vegetables growers in the Virginia region after the Gawler River flood event in 2016, providing business advice and delivering accredited training in small business and financial management. In his spare time and with the support of his two children, Trevor is developing a tourism enterprise on his property.