Rural Business Support (RBS) is increasing its commitment to supporting Kangaroo Island farmers and small business owners in their recovery from last summer's bushfires.
The opening of the new RBS Kingscote office was celebrated at an event at the Ozone Hotel on Thursday, September 17.
RBS small business financial counsellor Darren Keenan and rural financial counsellor Trevor Linke will be based at the Kingscote office on the corner of Telegraph Road and Franklin Street.
Adelaide based RBS business analyst and rural financial counsellor Russell Trainor also works with clients on the Island regularly.
Guest speaker at the launch included small business commissioner John Chapman and RBS CEO Brett Smith. State member for Mawson Leon Bignell also attended.
On Wednesday, a delegation from RBS visited the KI Recovery Centre at Parndana, meeting with recovery officers Tony Davis and Anna Osman.
The RBS delegation consisted of Kaye Butler (RBS Support Officer), Trevor Linke (RBS Rural Financial Counsellor) and Darren Keenan (Small Business Financial Counsellor).
Back in Kingscote, it is hoped the new RBS office will increase the delivery of service to Islanders.
Through delivery of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) and new Small Business Financial Counselling (SBFC) program, the RBS team can work with eligible impacted farmers and small business owners to develop and implement plans to recover.
With COVID-19 now adding another layer of complexity for businesses on the Island, RBS is encouraging people to call in on 1800 836 211 to discuss their situation and find out about the available free and confidential support.
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 empathetic support for Islanders to assess their options and find a way forward.
RBS CEO Brett Smith said that RBS financial counsellors could work with rural business owners to help them prioritise the important decisions and develop plans to help them gain some clarity amid the uncertainty.
"Our financial counsellors live and work on the Island, so they have lived through the trauma of last summer and understand the complex challenges and sensitivities involved with the recovery process," he said.
"We may be nine months on from the bushfires, but we know this is really just a blink for those affected. The economic, emotional, physical and mental toll of last summer's events is, in many cases, only just coming into focus now.
"RBS urges Island business owners to see if you're eligible for our free, independent and confidential services. Whether you're a primary producer or run a tourism operation, our services are here to help.
"Initially this might involve looking into government grants or other payment options to help ease some of the financial pressure. Our team can help you consider different options you may have to improve your business, then work with you to develop a plan to keep the business on track and you feeling in control."
RBS financial counsellors can also provide support to:
- Develop plans to manage cash flow and creditor payments
- Prepare for talks with lenders and insurance companies
- Access dispute resolution services
- Connect with broader professional advice and support
- Apply for government and community grants, programs or schemes
RBS rural financial counsellors help eligible primary producers who are in financial difficulty to take action to develop and implement plans to improve their financial position.
This includes farmers, fishers, forest growers and harvesters and owners of small agriculture related rural businesses.
RFCS also has information on programs and assistance that may be available such as Farm Household Allowance (FHA) and low interest loans through the Rural Investment Corporation (RIC).
The RBS Small Business team works with small business owners beyond the farm gate.
They can also help approved clients to access a Professional Services Fund, which can be used to cover the costs of specialist third-party advice beyond the scope of financial counselling services, such as financial planning and specialist taxation and accounting advice, or training.
Rural Business Support is funded to deliver the RFCS and SBFC programs by the federal and state governments.
To confirm 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.