One of the first points of call for any farmers feeling the effects of the long hot summer should be the new Rural Financial Counsellor servicing Tamworth and Gunnedah.
That is the message coming out of the office of Sarah Goulden, after the former far west resident picked up the Tamworth based role last week.
Ms Goulden has taken over where Julie Roy left off last November, and wants all farmers to know that while her door is always open, she loves nothing more than getting her boots on the ground for a home visit.
“I was really excited to see the Tamworth position advertised. I had worked in the same role in Bourke for eight years before moving to Dubbo to work as a Rural Resilience Officer,” she said.
“I have been in the role for one week and have already had plenty of calls – a lot from people who have never used the service before which is great.”
The primary role of the counselling service is to help farmers assess their own individual financial situation, and then lay out the options and help producers explore the funding, grants, loans and other subsidies available to them.
“The farmer’s are always in control of their choices, I will help them explore options but the final decision is always up to them,” Ms Goulden said.
“We also help deal with succession and retirement planning, as well as acting as help farmers deal with financial institutions that might have them under pressure.”
Traditionally farmers are stoic types who always like to deal with their own issues, although that perception is changing with the times, and every year more and more farmers are willing to put their hand up and ask for help or assistance, even if it is just to sift through the legal and financial jargon of contracts.
“We are funded by both State and Federal Governments, although we work completely independently as a free, impartial, professional and importantly strictly confidential service,” Ms Goulden said.
Ms Goulden will be a welcome addition to the North West, and while the boundaries of her covered area are “quite flexible” she welcome’s any farmers, fishers, forest growers, harvesters and small related businesses from anywhere around the Tamworth and Gunnedah region “to get in touch, even if it’s just for a chat.”