About 2019-09-18T07:31:06+00:00

About us

Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) Gippsland

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 Gippsland 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 – RFCSV-G 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 Bus (Accounting), GAICD.
KYLIE HOLMES - CPA, B Bus (Accounting), GAICD.Executive 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.
MEGAN COLAHANAdministration / Finance Officer (Leongatha)
Megan was employed by the Gippsland Farmers Support Group prior to the merge of the two Gippsland services in 2006. Megan is responsible for managing all financial aspects of the service, including payroll, tax, statutory and Government reporting requirements, and providing admin support to the counsellors and Executive Officer.

Megan has completed a Diploma in Business Administration and Cert III in Small Business Management.

JENNY MASONSenior Rural Financial Counsellor Coordinator (Maffra)
Jenny was appointed Senior Rural Financial Counsellor Coordinator (SRFCC) in 2009. 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.

ANNE GILLIGANRural Financial Counsellor (Leongatha)
Anne started as a Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC) in January 2010, and works at our Leongatha Head Office.

Anne has a background in finance having worked at the Commonwealth Bank and a local finance organisation. She also worked at the Department of Primary Industries for six years assisting in various departments in a casual administration role.

Anne and her husband owned and operated their family dairy farm at Buffalo until 2008.

Anne completed her Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling) in late 2011.

JANE COOTS - BBusCom (Accounting)
JANE COOTS - BBusCom (Accounting)Rural Financial Counsellor (Ellinbank)
Jane was appointed as Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC) in April 2016. Jane is based at our Ellinbank office and services clients across West Gippsland and the Yarra Ranges.

Previously an accountant, Jane is as working towards CPA accreditation after completing her Diploma of Financial Counselling (Rural) in 2017.

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®.

WAYNE SANDERSRural Financial Counsellor (Leongatha)
Wayne commenced as a Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC) 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.

Wayne is currently undertaking the Diploma of Financial Counselling – Rural.

TRUDI LAINGRural Financial Counsellor (Maffra)
Trudi commenced as a Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC) in July 2016 and is based in the Maffra office.

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.

She has completed her diploma of Agriculture and her certificate IV in Training and Assessing and is currently completing her Diploma of Financial Counselling – Rural.

WAYNE JEFFERIS - Bachelor of Business(Accounting) FCPA
WAYNE JEFFERIS - Bachelor of Business(Accounting) FCPARural Financial Counsellor (Bairnsdale)
Wayne was appointed as a Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC) in July 2017. Wayne’s background is in Public Accounting & farming. He was a partner in an Accounting Practice in Leongatha for many years where he worked with farmers & business clients to assist with all forms of compliance, management, finance & succession planning issues.

Wayne also had a passion for farming & operated his beef farm in South Gippsland until recent time.
Wayne & his wife have moved to Bairnsdale to reside.
Wayne is currently undertaking the Diploma of Financial Counselling – Rural.

PETER PAUWELS Rural Financial Counsellor (East & West Gippsland)
Peter has been a Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC) since 2008 originally based in Queensland, he commenced with RFCS Gippsland between 2011-2016, recently returning in 2018 servicing clients in East and West Gippsland.

Peter has vast experience working with a range of rural enterprises and was an international Financial Advisor, Business Improvement Consultant, and a bank Agribusiness Manager. He brings significant experience in business start-ups; investments; development and growth; efficiencies; strategy; marketing; restructuring; staff development; quality and risk management.

Previously obtaining a raft of relevant qualifications in areas including Rural Business Management, Agriculture and Human Resources, Peter is currently completing an MBA and a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences.

Peter completed his Diploma of Community Services (Financial Services) in 2010

MICHAEL ANDERSONSmall Business Financial Counsellor (East Gippsland)
Michael Anderson is a Gippsland resident, holds qualifications in Farm Management; Business and Mental Health Counselling, and is an experienced rural business broker, consulting Victorian small businesses for over 25 years. With a family background in farming, managing an agribusiness supply agency, and more recently, a counsellor in the East Gippsland region, Michael brings practical knowledge of fluctuating trading environments and the impact this has on business owners directly and in-directly relying on the agricultural industry.
Michael understands how to value a business, what makes a strong; viable business, as well as identify its strengths, risks, and market opportunities. He will work closely with owners to make any necessary changes, develop financial and business plans, as well as a market strategy to increase profitability to become a sustainable business.
CHRIS MARSHALLRural Financial Support Officer (East Gippsland)
Chris commenced with RFCS Gippsland in April 2019 to support clients in East Gippsland and Wellington Shires apply for financial assistance.
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.

Our Board

Mr AUBREY PELLETT - Dip. Farm Mgmt, Bach. Commerce (Farm Mgmt Major), Post Grad Dip. Info Systems, Dip. Company Directors (GAICD).
Mr AUBREY PELLETT - Dip. Farm Mgmt, Bach. Commerce (Farm Mgmt Major), Post Grad Dip. Info Systems, Dip. Company Directors (GAICD).Chair
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 RICHARD HABGOOD - Dip. Agriculture, Bach. Economics, Grad. Dip. Marketing, Grad. Cert. Evaluation.
Mr RICHARD HABGOOD - Dip. Agriculture, Bach. Economics, Grad. Dip. Marketing, Grad. Cert. Evaluation.Deputy Chair
Richard Habgood has been a RFCS Gippsland Board member since 2010 and was appointed Chair of the Board in November 2011. Richard is a member of the Remuneration and Governance Sub-Committee.

Richard has lived in West Gippsland since 1979 working for much of the time for the former Department of Primary Industries. He has provided consultancy services to industry development organisations and government departments.

Richard’s early roles with DPI as a farm management economist and manager for the delivery of DPI field services in West Gippsland has given him broad experience across the agriculture sector in Gippsland. He was the program manager for DPI’s dairy RD&E activities and as well as being involved in policy development.

He has also been involved in service clubs and a range of community activities in the Warragul district.

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.

Garry has been a RFCS Gippsland Board member since 2010 and is a member of the Audit Sub-Committee.

Garry lived on a dairy farm until he was married. After leaving school, he obtained his Diploma of Business Studies with an accounting major.

Garry’s working life has been varied with five years with the State Bank of Victoria, twenty years in water industry management dealing with water catchment, treatment and distribution, and wastewater treatment disposal, and fifteen years in aged care facility management in charge of Woorayl Lodge in rural Victoria. This range of work resulted in extensive experience in board governance, human resources and financial management of not-for-profit organizations. Additionally, Garry gained an increased level of understanding for the needs of others. Garry was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1996.

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.
Mr Dean Cullen
Mr Dean CullenBoard Member
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.
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 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.