Regional small businesses that have suffered the brunt of lockdowns, drought and bushfires will get specialised Australian Government assistance to support the country’s economic recovery.
The Regional Small Business Support Program pilot – valued at $8.6 million – will be rolled out from the beginning of 2022, building on the successful Drought Communities Small Business Support pilot.
Coordinator-General of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, the Hon Shane L Stone AC QC said the program provides valuable support to small businesses, which are the backbone of regional economies.
“Regional small businesses are the social and economic lifeblood of their communities. Even during the tough times they create local jobs, support local events and make sure their neighbours and friends don’t go without,” said Mr Stone.
The pilot provides free and independent case managed financial counselling for eligible small businesses through the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) program.
Clients work one-on-one with RFCS counsellors and support staff to access specialist financial planning and taxation advice, and to build financial and risk management capability.
This is an expansion of the initial pilot which has supported more than 1,350 regional small businesses employing approximately 3,100 people.
“The initial pilot program has been extremely well received – early feedback showing it’s not only helping regional small businesses to improve their financial wellbeing, but has also provided positive flow-on effects for regional communities.
“This was compelling evidence that the pilot should continue with a new name to recognise its broader role supporting regional businesses affected by challenges other than drought, including bushfires and COVID-19,” Mr Stone said.
The 12 month extension gives certainty to businesses already part of the pilot program, and allows others impacted by regional lockdowns, bushfires and drought to access the service.
Further information is available on the National Recovery and Resilience Agency website: www.recovery.gov.au/rural-financial-counselling-service