About 2022-07-28T12:49:53+10:00

About us

RFCS Gippsland

Rural Financial Counselling Service

RFCS Gippsland offices are conveniently located across our service region covering the whole of south east Victoria – from smaller acreage properties of south east Melbourne surrounds to as far as the New South Wales border, taking in farming and fishing regions of Gippsland and the coast.

Our service covers eleven (11) Council shires across south eastern Victoria: Bass Coast, Baw Baw, Cardinia, Casey, East Gippsland, Latrobe, Mornington Peninsula, Nillumbik, South Gippsland, Wellington and Yarra Ranges.

Our Service

Experienced and professional Rural Financial Counsellors (RFC) are available to meet with you on your farm, business premises, or any location that is suitable for you.

RFC can help develop plans for improving your future.

  • Free Service

  • Experienced & Qualified Counsellors

  • Here to help you achieve financial sustainability

More Info

Our Purpose

INTEGRITY
Respect & trust are our core values & are embedded in everything we do

COMMUNICATION 
We value open, honest & authentic communication, recognising diversity of thoughts

RECOGNITION
We Recognise & celebrate individual & team effectiveness

IMPROVEMENT
We encourage ‘bigger thinking’ & are focused on continuous improvement

Economically & Socially Prosperous Rural Communities

Champion & Empower Primary Producers & Small Rural Businesses to Plan for a Secure Future

Ensure a flexible, effective and efficient service for the delivery of rural financial counselling service (RFCS).

Support the ongoing development of skilled, professional counsellors.

Facilitate structural adjustment for farmers wishing to exit the industry.

Work with RFCS East Vic clients to ensure goals are reached and the client feels supported along their journey.

Provide valuable service to our clients, the community and our funding body.

Maintain the confidentiality of our clients.

Our Governance

We are a non-profit organisation supported by programs funded by Victorian & Federal Governments aiding farming communities and small rural business owners at risk of financial hardship.

Our two Victorian and Federal Government major funding bodies are:

Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR)

Victorian State Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

Donations from local Gippsland businesses provides at risk households with invaluable emergency relief support.

RFCS Gippsland Board of Directors provide the governing oversight for the achievement and reporting of our funded purpose.

View our current Board Members

They are accountable for upholding our legal, financial, risk and regulatory obligations, as well as guide our strategic vision, objectives and community advocacy.

To ensure appropriate understanding and guidance of our services, all of our Directors must have significant background and experience in the Agriculture/Rural sector(s), in addition to governance, business, economic, legal and community acumen.

Interested in being a member of the Board?  view the Board Position Description

Directors and members of RFCS Gippsland operate within its adopted Rules of Association

To further ensure compliance with statutory and funding obligations, the Board have formed sub-committees to oversee Audit, Remuneration and Governance:

Audit Sub-Committee – Charter

Remuneration & Governance Sub-Committee – Terms of Reference

Annual General Meetings are held in November

RFCS Gippsland Board members, Executive Officers and Employees all operate under a Code of Conduct (in conjunction with our policies and the Australian Public Service (APS) Values (Part 3 of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth)).  The code of conduct provides guidance and rules for appropriate conduct in the performance of our duties.  This embodies the commitment to act honestly and exercise a high degree of care and diligence in the discharge of our responsibilities, and to undertake activities in a manner which ensures public confidence in the administration of our services.

Read the detail of our Code here – RFCS Gippsland Code of Conduct

To ensure the protection, inclusion and satisfaction of our clients, employees, stakeholders and community, our Board have adopted and work within a suite of policies to provide appropriate controls, commitments, treatment, responses and guiding principles of operation.

Our policies cover financial and risk management, diversity and equality, compliance, integrity, employment, as well as work health safety & wellbeing.

To view our policies in detail, click the following link or visit the page Our Policies

Our Team

KYLIE HOLMES - CPA, B.Business (Accounting), GAICD, MBA
KYLIE HOLMES - CPA, B.Business (Accounting), GAICD, MBAExecutive Officer (Leongatha)
Kylie commenced as Executive Officer of RFCS Gippsland in September 2016. Kylie has worked in the banking and finance industry, and more recently with water service and supply organisations in various management roles including finance, IT, regulation and business services. Working with water service organisations, Kylie has had involvement with the rural and farming sectors assisting with water supply services.
MARSHALL SCOTT
MARSHALL SCOTTCounselling Coordinator
Marshall’s career as a Rural Financial Counsellor has spanned over 15 years, assisting over 1,000 farmers and rural businesses throughout the Peninsula, Bass Coast, Casey/Cardinia, South Gippsland and beyond, often navigating clients through serious disasters and crises.

With an applied background in Accounting; Banking; Insurance, Corporate Recovery & Insolvency, his speciality is negotiating with banks on clients’ behalf, particularly Farm Debt Mediation, being 100% focused on achieving the best outcome for his clients.

Marshall also brings extensive personal experience in agriculture and farm management, coupled with a vast array of qualifications including Masters of AgriBusiness, G.Dip Applied Science (Horticulture), B. of Business (Accounting), as well as Dip. Rural Financial Counselling

CHRIS JEHU
CHRIS JEHURural Business Support Officer & Team Leader (East Gippsland)
Chris is currently completing Diploma in Rural Financial Counselling after commencing with RFCS Gippsland in 2020 to support small business and farming clients in East Gippsland and Wellington Shires navigate financial support.
Chris grew up in South West Victoria working for local dairy farmers and contracting business and has resided in Gippsland for 10 years. He brings over 7 years of banking and finance experience with previous rolls as small business personal banker, financial planner and accounts manager. He has a passion for business and farming, particularly the diverse and unique Gippsland businesses with the support they give each other.
WAYNE SANDERS
WAYNE SANDERSRural Financial Counsellor (Leongatha)
Wayne is a qualified Rural Financial Counsellor, commencing with RFCS Gippsland in June 2016.

Wayne has a background in banking and finance in the Gippsland region of over 25 years. Previous roles have included Regional Finance and Regional Finance/Administration Manager with Wesfarmers, Branch Manager with Bendigo Bank and Gippsland Area Finance Manager with Westpac/AGC. Over the last 10 years Wayne has worked in employment within the job network and retail management in Leongatha.

Wayne has lived in Berry’s Creek for 22 years and is an active CFA firefighter for 20 years.

TRUDI LAING
TRUDI LAINGRural Financial Counsellor (Maffra)
Trudi is a qualified Rural Financial Counsellor, commencing with RFCS Gippsland in July 2016, based in the Maffra region.

As a former dairy farmer, she has owned and operated a dairy farming business in south Gippsland for 24 years until 2012.

She formerly worked at South Gippsland Water as the Procurement Officer and IT training and support. Trudi has a background in banking having worked at the Commonwealth Bank and has held positions in accounts payable and purchasing in the communication industry.

Trudi holds a diploma of Agriculture; Cert IV in Training and Assessing; as well as diploma in Rural Financial Counselling.

CHRIS MARSHALL
CHRIS MARSHALLRural Financial Counsellor (East Gippsland)
Chris commenced with RFCS Gippsland in April 2019, passionate about supporting our farming communities.
With a farming background, Chris also has significant experience understanding and representing fellow farmers as a committee member for the Southwest Rural Counselling Service for 10 years, as well as bringing substantial understanding of government assessment criteria working within Centrelink for 23 years (7 of those as a Rural Service Officer and Farm Household Case Officer), receiving written commendation from Federal Minister for Agriculture for work as a rural public servant.
ANNI BLANCH
ANNI BLANCHRFC Support Officer (East Gippsland)
Anni commenced with RFCS Gippsland in 2020 bringing a broad and diverse background in small business, financial services and farming, with over 20 years experience as a holistic financial planner, operating her own financial planning practice and sheep farm in regional Victoria. She holds postgraduate qualifications in Finance and a Diploma in Financial Planning, while currently completing a degree in Animal Science as well as a Diploma of Rural Financial Counselling.
JAMIE ROBINSON
JAMIE ROBINSONRural Business Support Officer (East Gippsland)
Jamie commenced with RFCS Gippsland in 2020, bringing Operations, Financial Management and Marketing experience within the SME and rural sectors. Jamie’s family roots are in Gippsland, starting his working life as a local shearer, and now passionate about supporting Gippsland businesses through their recovery.
Craig Emery
Craig EmeryRural Business Support Officer (East Gippsland)
Craig recently commenced with RFCS Gippsland, bringing extensive experience across many industries within the small to medium enterprise (SME) sector across all levels of management and operations, from HR through to Logistics and Customer Service. Being a small business owner himself, Craig understands the intricate nature of small business and the unique demands that exist.
Craig is a certified management accountant and CPA with a passion for supporting owners to understand their businesses in a way that can help them succeed and work through potential issues. This allows for a strong local economy and the positives impacts it can have on the community.
Nick Dudley
Nick DudleyRural Business Support Officer (Southern Gippsland)
Nick recently commenced with RFCS Gippsland coming from Agriculture Victoria where he was a Regional Manager as well as an Agriculture Recovery Coordinator. In recent years he has worked extensively across Gippsland assisting farmers effected by drought and impacted by 19 -20 bushfires. Nick’s family runs a small farming enterprise in the Strzelecki Ranges close to Korumburra, and previously worked as a Landcare Coordinator and Lecturer in Horticulture across 2 University of Melbourne Colleges.
Amy Stark
Amy StarkWellness Support Officer (Southern Gippsland)
Amy Stark is our Wellness Support Officer, and along with her husband and 3 children, is also a Gippsland dairy farmer. Knowing first-hand the challenges farmers face daily & the impact on their wellbeing, Amy wanted to make a difference and became qualified in Mental Health services and worked within recovery support, helping people with strategies for better self-care. Amy loves working with local farmers to support their wellbeing – ensuring they keep enjoying what they do.
Dante D'Amelio
Dante D'AmelioWellness Support Officer (Eastern Gippsland)
Dante D’Amelio is our Wellness Supporting Officer bringing extensive experience in community services sectors of mental health, addiction and homelessness, working closely with individuals and families supporting them through times of crises.

Our Board

Mr Dean Cullen
Mr Dean CullenChair
Dean commenced as an RFCS Gippsland Board member in 2019 bringing extensive financial services experience, most recently as General Manager within the Insurance industry that includes risk management, strategy and significant financial analysis, particularly for commercial, small business and farming clients, as well as being successfully accountable for business, product and employee performance. He holds a Bachelor Business and is a Fellow of the Australian & NZ Insurance Institute. Dean has a long standing connection with the South Gippsland region both as a resident as well as in a professional capacity.
Ms Raelene Hanratty
Ms Raelene HanrattyDeputy Chair
Raelene commenced as an RFCS Gippsland Board member in 2019 and has a background in banking, operated a Dairy Farm for 32 years, and has held numerous positions on boards and committees, with an extensive volunteering record as President, Treasurer, Manager and Coach for various State and local sporting groups in Gippsland.
Current positions include a Mentor for the Lifeline Farmers’ Friend program; Deputy Chair of Heyfield Hospital; Customer Consultative Committee Deputy Chair for Southern Rural Water, with representation on the Modernization Program and Agriculture Industry Group engagement committees. Previous advisory roles include representing the agricultural sector in the Gippsland Regional Assembly, and representing the Dairy industry in local and government discussions and inquiries.
Raelene brings significant experience in business management and governance including finance; risk; strategy; stakeholder relations; legal and regulatory compliance.
Ms Michelle Dowsett - CPA, MBA, B.BusCom, GAICD
Ms Michelle Dowsett - CPA, MBA, B.BusCom, GAICDTreasurer
Michelle commenced on the RFCS Gippsland Board in November 2019, bringing significant skills and experience in senior management; policy; finance; people and culture; compliance; risk; strategy and overall governance. Michelle currently resides at a family hobby cattle farm in Longford, Gippsland and is the CEO of a community based non-profit Elderly Citizens Village in Sale. Amongst other roles, she was previously a Lecturer at Victorian University, has held Directorships; Independent Audit & Risk; Treasury; Committee memberships and Volunteer roles in both private and government sectors across Education; Utilities; Municipal Agencies; Health Care; Employment; Aged Care; Sporting and Indigenous organisations. Michelle holds a range of qualifications in Business, is a certified CPA, holds an MBA, and is an AICD graduate.
Mrs Clare Adams - BJ
Mrs Clare Adams - BJSecretary
Clare commenced as a RFCS Gippsland Board Member in early 2018 bringing extensive experience within financial services, banking and employment industries.
Clare has considerable experience on boards within the education and aged care sectors, with specific expertise in finance and audit.
A previous member of the Regional Victorian Small Business Partnership and Reference Group, Clare is highly involved in her community of Sale, and is currently appointed as a Victorian State Bail Justice.
Ms Heather Stacy (AM) - D.Applied Science (Ag), GD. Rural Leadership, MBA, GAICD
Ms Heather Stacy (AM) - D.Applied Science (Ag), GD. Rural Leadership, MBA, GAICDBoard Member
Heather commenced on the RFCS Gippsland Board in November 2019, bringing significant agribusiness, workplace culture, and governance experience (specialising in risk, strategy and finance) within corporate, government and non-profit sectors internationally. Heather grew up on a dairy farm and has continued her career working across various family and large corporate agribusiness industries in Australia and New Zealand, predominantly in Senior Management roles (including United Dairyfarmers and Fonterra), and has held Board Director memberships with AgriFutures; West Gippsland Healthcare Group, and Victorian WorkCover Authority. Heather is a graduate of the AICD, Australian Rural Leadership Program, and holds an MBA as well as qualifications in Agricultural Science. Her contributions to Rural Australia have seen her become an honouree member of the Order of Australia.
Mr Peter Jennings (OAM) - B. Sc. Grad Dip. Ed. Dip. AICD. Dip. Management
Mr Peter Jennings (OAM) - B. Sc. Grad Dip. Ed. Dip. AICD. Dip. ManagementBoard Member
Peter commenced as a Board Director for RFCS Gippsland in November 2021. Starting his career as a teacher, Peter has been a generational farmer in Gippsland for over 40 years.

Awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2017 for his services to the Gippsland community, he has held various leadership and governance roles including as a Shire Councillor, Commissioner and Board Member/Chair for numerous organisations, incorporating significant financial oversight.

Peter has 14 years prior experience working for RFCS Gippsland, including 9 years in the Executive Officer role.

Mr Damian Murphy - Adv. Dip. Agriculture
Mr Damian Murphy - Adv. Dip. AgricultureBoard Member
Damian commenced as a Board Director for RFCS Gippsland in November 2021 bringing significant Dairy farming experience and leadership in Agricultural policy and advocacy.

Milking 270 cows at Dumbalk North, Damian has held roles with the United Dairy Farmers of Victoria, Australian Dairy Farmers, Victorian Agricultural Advisory Council and is a Board member of Farmconnect. As well as farming, Damian & his family also operate businesses in Leongatha.

Awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2012 Damians study topic was ‘Young Farmer Finance Schemes’, and is now the Vice Chair of Nuffield Victoria.