Articles of interest - 13 January

Written on the 12 January 2021 by SAFCA

  • Rural Business Support more offices, more staff, helping more people
  • Concessions SA streamlined application process
     


Rural Business Support more offices, more staff, helping more people

From Brett Smith, CEO Rural Business Support, 23 December 2020

Dear Friends of Rural Business Support

As I write to wish you and your families a safe and peaceful Christmas season, our thoughts are with those of you who may have had plans to travel over the holidays, and are now rethinking travel plans, and dealing with the ongoing disruption of a year that has been quite unlike any other.

I have no doubt that many will be happy to forget 2020. The year has been characterised by catastrophic bushfires, wild storms, continued drought, international trade sanctions, social isolation, the cessation of international and (in many ways) national travel and a global pandemic.

With the dawning of the New Year, the events of 2020 will turn into continued concern for the future. Please be assured that RBS will continue to be front and centre working with small rural businesses and farming enterprises to help them develop and implement plans to recover.

I am sure that you will agree that it has been an exceptionally challenging year for all of us, and especially for the rural sector with the need for enhanced rural business support. Continuing dry seasonal conditions, the impact of bushfire, and  the disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic have meant our services have been highly sought after and a crucial support to those doing it tough.

At the time of writing, RBS is working with 630 farm enterprises, 120 rural small businesses and 12 land owners across South Australia and the Northern Territory. Over the course of the year, we have helped more than 1300 farm operations. We commenced the year with less than 30 staff and eight regional offices. We now have over 50 staff, and 12 regional offices, with six of them commissioned in the last six months and a growing presence throughout regional South Australia and the Northern Territory!

Our expansion has been generously supported by both the Federal and State Governments, who have recognised the important work we do to ease the burden in struggling regional and rural communities.

Whether it's looking at financial assistance such as the Farm Household Allowance; exploring loan options through the Regional Investment Corporation; considering assistance to navigate the impact of COVID-19; recovering from the devastating bushfires of the summer of 2019/2020; or developing business transfer or exit plans, our Rural and Small Business Financial Counselling teams are leading farm enterprises and rural small businesses through the decisions that need to be made. Often, providing welcome clarity and guidance at times of high emotional and financial distress.

Encouraging farmers to reach out for help with managing their mental health is also important. We look forward to continuing our partnership with ifarmwell.com.au to help grow awareness and usage of this unique farmer-focused online wellbeing tool.

Heading into 2021, RBS has some challenging but exciting new prospects ahead.

We are highly committed to delivering the Rural Financial Counselling service, growing the Small Business Financial Counselling and Landowner Information services beyond the pilot programs. And we are grateful for the opportunity to keep partnering with other important organisations such as the SA CWA and Rotary to deliver additional financial support and much needed programs in times of distress.

We're also excited to be delivering our first event through the RBS Relief Fund, the Kangaroo Island Farmers' Tour of Pinery and wellbeing initiative, which was made possible through the generosity of the BankSA Foundation. We are also grateful to Agriculture Kangaroo Island, the Agricultural Bureau and Grain Producers SA as well as Sealink for their support of this initiative.

New opportunities will also exist for our Farm Business Strategic Review Program particularly with the Federal Government's Future Fund rolling out across the regions.

We appreciate our partnerships with Federal, State and Territory Government organisations, particularly our growing partnership with the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency.

2021 will be a year for consolidating our growth and focusing on what we do best - supporting farm enterprises and rural small business owners when and where they need it most. We will continue to develop programs that address barriers to financial literacy and build resilience through ever increasing periods of business disruption. With our approach largely focusing on case management, the relationships we develop with our clients are sustainable, and long term.

While our head office will be closed from December 24 until January 4, referrals can still be made to our freecall number: 1800 836 211. A rural financial counsellor will respond to these calls over the Christmas break.

I wish to also express my sincerest gratitude to those of you who have supported us in recent weeks as we finalised our application to extend our funding from June 2021 for another three years.

This year, perhaps more than most, has reminded us all of the importance of having sound, resilient, reliable rural enterprises and small businesses. Thank you for your ongoing support of RBS as we continue to work together to help rural communities through these difficult times.

On behalf of the leadership team at RBS and our entire team, I wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe Christmas and look forward to seeing you on the flip side of the holiday season.

Brett Smith
CEO - Rural Business Support

Contact: 1800 836 211
www.ruralbusinesssupport.org.au
 



Concessions SA streamlined application process

ConcessionsSA administers a range of concessions to help South Australians on low or fixed incomes with the cost of household expenses. These include targeted concessions, such as for utilities bills, and the Cost of Living Concession, which can be used at the customer's discretion.

You may have heard that over the past year we have streamlined the application process for these household concessions, making it easier and faster:

  • Customers can now use a single online form to apply for concessions on energy, water and sewerage, the Emergency Services Levy and the cost of living
  • We have significantly reduced the amount of supporting evidence needed
  • Existing ConcessionsSA customers can also use the online form to easily update their details for example, when they change address or bank account, or if they switch energy retailers

Remember that private tenants, retirement village and residential park residents are also eligible to apply for concessions, even if household costs such as energy, water and sewerage services are included in agreement or service fees.

Please share these changes across your networks, destroy old hard copies of the green application for household concessions form and encourage customers visit sa.gov to use the online form.

Visit www.sa.gov.au/concessions to apply online or for more information.

Use the Concession Finder tool on sa.gov to view concessions and support programs available to different card/income types.

Phone the ConcessionsSA Hotline on 1800 307 758

Email concessions@sa.gov.au


 


Author: SAFCA

SAFCA

Suite 7 Wellington Centre, 2 Portrush Rd.
Payneham SA 5070