ANNUAL

REPORT

2021

ANNUAL

REPORT

2021

35 years proudly supporting Gippsland Primary Producers & Small Businesses become more

PROFITABLE · RESILIENT · SUSTAINABLE

RFCS

PROGRAM

Rural Financial Counsellors and experienced Small Business Support Officers change lives of rural and regional business operators with independent personalised financial assistance – tailored to individual needs

HOW WE WORK WITH CLIENTS

navigate out of financial stress
Analyse Financial Position

Identify Viable Options

Develop plans to improve cash flow

Implement Changes & Improvements

Reduce Financial Risks

Access Industry Support & Programs

Help Achieve Long-Term Goals & Quality of Life

CHAIR’S

MESSAGE


2020-21 has been a welcome change from previous years with farmers across Gippsland experiencing relatively good seasonal conditions, combined with solid commodity prices leading to improved trading conditions.

These positive conditions resulted in a reduction in our overall client numbers, which has enabled opportunity for more in-depth engagement with our clients and increased support for their recovery plans. We are pleased to return to more sustainable levels which has reduced counsellor fatigue and vicarious trauma associated with crisis work.

In contrast to the Rural sector, small businesses throughout our region have been under pressure, with many facing significant financial hardship caused by pandemic restrictions. Our small business support team have been working to ensure these businesses receive all the financial support needed, including assistance to those able to adapt and modify operations.

With businesses expected to take years to recover, our Board will continue advocating for funding to retain provision of specialised rural small business support beyond 2022.

Despite the challenging operating environment for the RFCS team due to COVID-19 restrictions we are proud to now provide personal wellbeing services for clients, which we have embedded in our service offering after a successful pilot during 2020-21.

I take this opportunity to formally thank the Commonwealth Government for awarding RFCS Gippsland renewed grant funding to continue providing a valuable community service for the next 3 years. It is a testament to the hard work of our team and management, focused on continuous improvement and community engagement - building on our 35 year legacy.

After nine years as a board member I will retire at this years AGM and would like to thank everyone I have worked with over that time. It has been a privilege to be able to support rural communities in Gippsland through RFCS. Also, I wish to acknowledge the retirement after nine years of long standing Treasurer Robin Lowe. Robins’ contribution and expertise provided to RFCS is to be commended.

Aubrey Pellett

STRATEGIC

OBJECTIVE

Continuously be industry leaders, improve services and enhance value to our community and clients

PERFORMANCE

Effectively engage and support clients to improve their financial outcomes​

VALUE

Continuously raise awareness & be beneficial to our communities​

GOVERNANCE

Implement effective systems & processes to monitor financial & operational compliance

PEOPLE

Develop supportive environment of shared experience with wellbeing a priority​

Our sole focus is to be a valuable community service, achieving positive financial & wellbeing outcomes for our clients to ensure a secure financial future

Testimonials are sourced from 2020-21 client exit surveys


Working with RFCS has benefited me, my family and my farm through the extended knowledge and experience that my own RFC provides.   Working with my RFC opens and assists my thinking when off farm business' along with my everyday on-farm struggles become overwhelming.  The most important thing to me is just having the presence of the RFCS, as a whole, alongside of me or behind me, so to speak, because it protects my farm, my family and myself from debt pressures -  that is -  the presence of RFCS allows more time to work things out, and not make rash business decisions -  mostly in times of stress that may have detrimental effects on the three most important bodies within the agriculture industry -  my farm, my family and myself

Client 2021

FUNDING

BODIES

RFCS Gippsland is a registered charitable non-profit organisation funded by Commonwealth and State Governments to ensure viable rural communities

2021-24 RFCS Program will be overseen by the National Recovery & Resilience Agency
along with State funding partners, Agriculture Victoria

COMMONWEALTH FUNDING AWARDED

2021 - 2024
As a non-profit registered charity, secured commonwealth funding until 2024 allows RFCS Gippsland to continue our focus on providing clients with a roadmap to an improved financial future, or a pathway and support to sustainably exit their business.

Additional funding was awarded during 2020 to continue small business support services in East Gippsland, previously initiated in February 2019 via funding from the Victorian Government to support drought regions

SERVICES

EXPANDED

Complimenting core delivery of RFCS, a dedicated Client Wellness program is now embedded to provide non-clinical support as a complete wrap-around service, ensuring sustainable improvements in both financial and personal wellbeing

know

CLIENT WELLBEING RESULTS

Actual results of a client over 6 Wellness Support Program sessions measuring their wellbeing status from 1 > 10 for each 5 wellbeing pillars:

Successful results of the pilot trial conducted during 2020-21 reassured Board & Management of the direct correlation between improving clients’ personal wellbeing and their ability to become more proactive in financial decision making during challenging circumstances

EXECUTIVE

MESSAGE


After many years of a high demand for our services with the region concurrently impacted by industry downturns, natural disasters, ongoing drought and now a pandemic, I am extremely pleased that this year we experienced a slight reduction in demand in the agricultural sector due to improved conditions, reducing the workload stressors on our dedicated team who are now enjoying the quality engagement with their clients to help them recover and improve their financial future - which is what they enjoy and do best.

I am immensely proud of the endurance, grit and resilience of both our team and their communities during these unprecedented times, and am hopeful for the relief that will allow our region to recover and prosper.

I whole-heartedly thank our team for their unwavering dedication to support and improve the lives of our clients and community.


Kylie Holmes

Challenges and Achievements

Operating within COVID-19 restrictions has been both a challenge and an achievement as we were able to seamlessly continue operations – responding to client needs by converting from on-farm delivery to considerable phone and computer-based engagement. Although we will always preference on-site engagement, efficiencies identified during this time will remain and be embedded into our future client and community engagement strategies. 

It also became an opportunity for our clients, many adverse to using technology, to learn and adapt to technology-based communications.  This not only connected them with our and other service providers, but also facilitated connection to their wider family and community.

A highlight of the year has been leading the development of a Client Management System (CMS), becoming the standard program utilised by majority of RFCS providers nationally, and integrated with government reporting requirements.  The CMS aims to create operational efficiencies and improve service delivery and client outcomes into the future.

SUCCESS

MEASURES

Client feedback & outcomes determine our success

CLIENT IMPROVEMENT

100%

SERVICE QUALITY

92%

CLIENT SATISFACTION

95%

Success measures from client responses of both an independent annual survey conducted by Federal Government as well as internal survey results of clients who completed the program

Counsellor service excellence and client satisfaction

% CLIENTS

RECOMMEND SERVICE

99.5%

WILL OR HAVE
RECOMMENDED SERVICE

% Excellence Counsellor Knowledge, Understanding & Service

% Satisfaction of clients engaged in the service

Results from surveys completed in 2020-2021 by clients exiting the service

KPI

REPORTING

Key Performance Indicators monitored by Federal Government program funders

% Client Activity Outcomes

Improved Understanding Relevant Business Planning Areas (KPI 1a) 92%
Improved Confidence in Making Business Decisions (KPI 1b) 92%
Implemented Business Strategies (KPI 3b) 100%

National survey results 2020-2021

Established Goals (KPI 2a) 79%
Clients Achieved Goals (KPI 3a) 52%
Developed Strategies (KPI 2b) 42%

Data results from government reporting system

Enhancement of Client Skills & Business Capabilities

% Improvement of client engaged in these activities

Survey results: clients exiting service during 2020-2021

CLIENT

PROFILE

The RFCS program assists a range of Primary Producers & Small Business located throughout South-East Victoria

2021 CLIENT INDUSTRY BREAKDOWN

% industry types

438

TOTAL
BUSINESSES
ASSISTED

89 CUSTOMERS
349 CLIENTS

Small Business operators predominantly prefer to engage in transactional support

whilst majority of farmers opt to be clients for long-term planning assistance

349

TOTAL
CLIENTS
2020-2021

99 New & Returning
225 Finalised Service

Decrease in total client numbers due to internal process of exiting clients that only required transational support or were disengaged in the service over many years

TOTAL CLIENTS & TRANSACTIONAL CUSTOMERS 2020-21

Customers: receive short-term assistance with information & access to crisis and recovery support program Clients: receive a range of long-term planning & support services

FARM INDUSTRY BREAKDOWN - Historical

% industry demand 5 year trend Primary Producers

A return to Sustainable Levels

after continuous growth in demand, 2020-21 saw a reduction in clients numbers & counsellor/client ratios, allowing the team to predominantly focus on recovery activities with their clients

PRIMARY PRODUCER CLIENTS TOTAL - Historical

Decrease in new Client numbers (primary producers) predominently due to improved environmental & operational conditions, as well as limited direct engagement within community due to COVID-19 restrictions

Clients transition through 3 priority phases from Crisis support through to Planning & Recovery activities

Various activities and depths of service are undertaken within these phases for clients to achieve immediate & future financial relief

% ACTIVITIES BREAKDOWN

Percentage of phased activities undertaken per year

Clients engaged in increased recovery planning activities during 2020-21 from previous years response to multiple crises

FINANCIAL

SUMMARY

Execution of program funding is conducted with strong fiscal responsibility & governance

$1.913M

TOTAL
FUNDING

$928,578
Government Funding

$901,306
Special Funding

$83,315
Other Support

Special Grant Funding is Government contingency in  response to crisis providing additional resources to meet client demand

Significant funding was received in June 2020 contributing to higher funding recorded in previous financial year

$2.209M

TOTAL
EXPENDED

$808,180
Employment Expenses

$45,283
Board Directors

$1,123,439
Special Grants

$232,724
Other Costs

Current year expenditure associated with funding received in previous year. Prior year surplus used to fund additional positions in 2020-21 supporting drought, bushfire & COVID impacted clients.  Some unspent funding will be used to continue these positions until 31 December 2021

RFCS

TEAM

Directed and operated by a team of qualified experts in finance, agriculture and small business with a passion for supporting Gippsland communities

THANK YOU

We sadly said goodbye to some of our team retiring from the service this year: Megan Colahan and Wayne Jefferis

Their dedication and commitment to the growth of the organisation is greatly appreciated by the Team, Management and Board, who all share gratitude for their contributions and wish them well for their future

OUR BAIRNSDALE TEAM 2020

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RFCS Gippsland

Annual Report 2021

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