About 2021-10-26T11:47:32+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

We treat everyone with dignity, express genuine care and concern for others, and have an appreciation that all people and circumstances are different

We treat everyone with honesty and fairness, in a professional and engaging manner, and we take responsibility for our actions

We build trust by being open, honest, respectful and reliable with each other and with our clients

We are inclusive and recognise the contributions and achievements of everyone involved in our success

We value the opinions of others and commit to fostering a culture of open and honest communication and transparent and fair decision making

To provide free rural financial counselling services (RFCS) to eligible primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses in south-east Victoria as supported by programs funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

To provide charitable financial assistance to farming families in need.

Be a valuable service
to our rural community, with a skilled, professional and respected team of Rural Financial Counsellors (RFC)

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.
JENNY MASONProject Coordinator - Learning & Development
Jenny recently retired as our Senior Rural Financial Counsellor Coordinator, now leading our training & development platform for new Rural Financial Counsellors.

Prior to this she was employed as a rural financial counsellor and projects officer for RFCS Gippsland. Her project work focused on farm succession, diversification, employment, retirement and selling. The culmination of this work was presented at the Farmers Choosing Change Expo in 2005 followed by a workbook and DVD.

Jenny grew up on a dairy farm and has continued to be involved in the dairy industry as a farm business owner and operator in partnership with her husband.

This background provides Jenny with a very comprehensive and practical understanding of both business and operational issues confronting farmers in Gippsland.

Formal qualifications and accreditation include Business (Accounting), Community Services – Financial Counselling, Case Management & Welfare Work, Training & Assessment, Family Meeting Facilitation, Professional Supervision.

CHRISTINE BOUCHERWellness Support Program Manager
Christine Boucher commenced with RFCS Gippsland in 2021 to support our client’s personal wellbeing during difficult times. Christine brings decades of health industry experience, previously specialising as an Intensive Care Nurse and more recently as a qualified health and wellness coach, helping organisations transform their culture.

Christine works with our clients personally, offering ongoing support and holistic strategies to reduce stressors and empower clients to reestablish positive mindsets.

KAREN JONESRural Skills Coordinator
Karen is an experienced Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the employment, training, and community services sectors, bringing strong skills and experience in Program Management, Coaching, Strategic Planning, Leadership Development, Project Planning and Organizational Development. Working across the Gippsland region has provided her with an understanding of employment trends and skills shortages across a range of industries.
Karen’s focus is supporting the Gippsland community enhance their lives through employment and training opportunities with tailored support so clients can achieve their goals.
JANE COOTS - BBusCom (Accounting), CPA
JANE COOTS - BBusCom (Accounting), CPAFinance Manager & Rural Financial Counsellor
Jane is our Finance Manager, appointed as Rural Financial Counsellor in April 2016, continuing in this role servicing clients across South & West Gippsland and the Yarra Ranges.

Previously an accountant, Jane is CPA accredited and holds a Diploma of Financial Counselling (Rural).

Together with her husband, she was a dairy farmer in Trafalgar for 15 years before leaving the industry at the end of 2015. She was also a director of the Board of Trafalgar Community Bank®.

MARSHALL SCOTTCounselling Coordinator
Marshall’s career as a Rural Financial Counsellor has spanned over 20 years, helping 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) and is a certified Wool Classer.

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 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 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 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.
CHRIS JEHURural Financial Counsellor & Small Business 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.
JAMIE ROBINSONRFC Support Officer (East Gippsland)
Jamie commenced with RFCS Gippsland in 2020, bringing many years of Operational and Financial Management experience within the SME sector. Jamie’s family roots are in Gippsland and is passionate about assisting Gippsland businesses and sharing his online marking skills from operating his own Web Design & Social Media business.

Our Board

Mr Aubrey Pellett - D.Farm Mgmt, B.Commerce (Farm Mgmt), GD. Info Systems, GAICD
Mr Aubrey Pellett - D.Farm Mgmt, B.Commerce (Farm Mgmt), GD. Info Systems, GAICDChair
Aubrey has been a RFCS Gippsland Board member since 2012 and is also a member of the Audit Sub-Committee.

Aubrey lives at Hill End in West Gippsland where he has operated a dairy farm business since 2002. Before farming Aubrey worked in rural and retail banking and for Bonlac Foods during 2004 – 2005 as a field officer in Gippsland.

Aubrey was a director of GippsDairy between 2010 and 2014, is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Bonlac Supply Company, a Fonterra Forum Delegate since 2012, and appointed to the Agribusiness Gippsland Board in 2017.

Mr Dean Cullen
Mr Dean CullenDeputy Chair
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.
Mr Robin Lowe - FCA
Mr Robin Lowe - FCA Treasurer
Robin has been a RFCS Gippsland Board member since 2012 and has served as Vice Chair of the Board. Robin is currently the Chairman and Treasurer of the Audit Sub-Committee.

Robin grew up on a small dairy farm in South Gippsland before completing his Bachelor of Business at Monash University. He is a Senior Principal of Crowe Horwath, an integrated financial services provider within Gippsland and part of an international accounting network.

Robin has over 35 years in public practice and has spent his entire working career in advisory roles. A diverse client base of small to medium enterprises provides exposure to a very wide range of business situations. He has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is a long serving President of the Sale Tennis Club as well as serving on advisory committees with Tennis Victoria.

Robin is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, a Registered Tax Agent and a Registered Company Auditor.

Mrs Clare Adams - BJ
Mrs Clare Adams - BJBoard Member
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 Raelene Hanratty
Ms Raelene HanrattyBoard Member
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 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.
Ms Michelle Dowsett - CPA, MBA, B.BusCom, GAICD
Ms Michelle Dowsett - CPA, MBA, B.BusCom, GAICDBoard Member
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.