Terms of Reference for the review of the Rural Financial Counselling Service program

​Scope of assessment

The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) program provides free financial counselling to primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses who are suffering financial hardship and who have no alternative sources of impartial support.

The National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) will conduct a review of the RFCS program to assess: the agricultural and fisheries sectors’ need for, awareness and use of the service; its effectiveness in delivering core services and meeting objectives; the suitability of its current
structure and governance arrangements; and its future role in improving the productivity, competiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.

In conducting the review, NRAC will assess:

Need for the service

  • the current need for rural financial counselling services
  • the agricultural and fisheries sectors’ understanding, awareness and use of the RFCS program

Effectiveness

  • whether the RFCS program is meeting its policy objectives in assisting primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses experiencing financial hardship to respond to challenges
  • whether the aims, objectives and activities of the RFCS program are still relevant and consider how they align with the government’s objectives and priorities

Efficiency

  • the efficiency of the RFCS program’s administration and if the current structure is still relevant
  • that service delivery models and structural changes could improve the effectiveness of the current program beyond 30 June 2015
  • the efficiency of the program’s funding model

Potential future role

  • what services are required by primary producers who are suffering financial hardship and can the RFCS continue to provide those services/take on new services
  • what opportunities exist to alter the program’s role to further improve the productivity, competiveness and sustainability of agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries
  • the role of RFCS in supporting delivery of future income support payments for farmers.

Timeframe and reporting

  • Review to be conducted from April to August 2014.
  • The review’s written report to be submitted to the Minister for Agriculture by no later than 30 September 2014.

Supporting structures

Supporting research, data and secretariat functions will be provided by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources​.