Support for dairy farmers

September 2016


Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS)

The Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW provides free and impartial financial counselling to eligible primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses who are suffering financial hardship. This includes support to manage the challenges of change and adjustment.

Northern Region Contacts:

  • Steve Sibley, Casino Rural Financial Counsellor phone 02 6662 6191
  • Terry Pearce, Macksville Rural Financial Counsellor phone02 6568 3888
  • Ron Lindsay, Gloucester Rural Financial Counsellor phone02 6558 2570
  • Andrew Ellem, Taree Rural Financial Counsellor phone 02 6551 5879
  • Ray Hynes, Scone Rural Financial Counsellor phone 02 6545 3544
  • All other areas Ross Turvey phone 02 6662 6191

Southern region contacts:

  • Peter Muirhead, Cooma Rural Financial Counsellor and dairy specialist phone 64523766, 0447 467 964
  • Kevin McCrum, Ganmain Rural Financial Counsellor phone 69276622, 0448 642 444
  • Beverley Houterman, Crookwell Rural Financial Counsellor phone 48320070
  • Graham Christie, Coleambally phone 02 6954 4179, 0438 444 540
  • Murray Freshwater, Deniliquin phone 03 5881 5766, 0428 815 766
  • Haidee Laycock, Griffith / Leeton phone 02 6962 3812, 0447 479 694

Central region Contacts: Ph: 1800 940 404

  • John Jones, Dubbo phone 0427 439 481
  • Andrew Turnbull, Dubbo phone 0419 402 295
  • Robert Muffet, Forbes phone 0458 523 837
  • Patrick Crowe, Forbes phone 0488 304 590
  • For other RFC offices visit the NSW Rural Assistance Authority or phone 1800 678 593

Farm Household Support

The Federal Government Department of Human Services provides help for farmers and their families experiencing financial hardship. To be eligible:

  • You must be a farmer or the partner of a farmer. If you are the farmer you must contribute a significant part of your labour and capital to the farm enterprise based on specific criteria
  • meet an income and assets test
  • be willing to undertake a Farm Financial Assessment, and
  • be willing to enter into a Financial Improvement Agreement to help you improve your financial circumstances

Contact: Farmer Assistance Line phone 132 316 or your local Rural Financial Counsellor

Financial Hardships Tax Provisions

The Australian Tax Office has a range of options for farmers experiencing financial hardship such as deferred payment plans

More information is also available by calling 13 72 86.

Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner

Small Biz Connect is a quality, personalised and highly subsidised business advisory program for small businesses in NSW, including agribusinesses. Call 1300 134 359 to make an appointment with your local business advisor or contact the advisors below.


  • Hunter/Upper Hunter; Mark MacClean ph 4925 7700 or email:
  • Hunter/Great Lakes/Central Coast; Mike Hillsden ph 0419 449 107 email:
  • Wagga; Alan Hayes 0458 856 588
  • Deniliquin; Ted Retallik 0458 340 400
  • Albury; Kevin Bascomb 0402 857 041

The Rural Assistance Authority

Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans

The Australian and NSW Governments have reaffirmed their commitment to dairy farmers doing it tough, with applications now open for Dairy Recovery Concessional loans.  Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans will help those affected by the Murray Goulburn and Fonterra decisions to drop farm gate milk prices.

Loans up to $1 million, repayable over 10 years at a variable concessional interest rate are available to eligible farm businesses for the purposes of Debt Restructuring, providing new debt for Operating Expenses or Productivity Enhancement Activities, or a combination of these.

Detailed eligibility criteria for the Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans are available in the Scheme Guidelines. Contact the NSW RAA or call 1800 678 593.

Applications will close when funding is fully committed or by 31 October 2016, whichever occurs first.

This program is funded by the Australian Government and delivered in New South Wales by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.

The new dairy loans are part of the Australian Government’s Dairy Support Package which also includes employing more rural financial counsellors in dairy regions and a new Dairy Industry Liaison Officer to help connect dairy farmers with the assistance available. The Australian Government also has put more staff on to process applications for Farm Household Allowance so claims can be assessed as quickly as possible.

To read more about the Australian government's commitment to dairy farmers, download their document Governments reaffirm financial assistance for dairy farmers (PDF, 86.92 KB).

More information on the Dairy Support Package and the range of Australian Government assistance available for farmers, farm businesses and rural communities.

Farm Innovation Fund

The Farm Innovation Fund is an incentive-based initiative to assist farmers within New South Wales to identify and address risks to their farming enterprises, improve permanent farm infrastructure, ensure long term productivity and sustainable land use plus aiding in meeting changes to seasonal conditions. Loans of up to $250,000 to meet the cost of carrying out permanent capital works that will have a significant beneficial impact on the land, long term profitability of the enterprise and address adverse seasonal conditions

Contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or 0263 913 000.

Farm Business Skills - Professional Development Program

The NSW Government is also offering farmers assistance with assessing their financial situation and future operations through the Farm Business Skills - Professional Development Program. This program forms part of the NSW Drought Strategy.

The Farm Business Skills - Professional Development Program provides primary producers with:

  • the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills to build improved resilience and adaptability in their agricultural business
  • exposure to new ideas, tools and techniques
  • a range of products and services that engage the wide diversity of skills, knowledge and experience within the agricultural business sector
  • a focus on building the skills and knowledge of agricultural business to manage risk, financial and business planning or decision making capacity.

Participants can receive a subsidy of up to 50% of the total cost of professional development activities to a maximum of $5000 for the first person from the farm business across eligible programs.

Additional members of the farm business management team can also apply for support for up to an additional $1000 per person for a maximum of four people to a maximum of $9000 for the farm business over the five years of the program.

You are strongly urged to seek advice and application assistance from your local Rural Financial Counsellor – see above – DO NOT SELF ASSESS.

Farm Debt Mediation

The Farm Debt Mediation Scheme makes it compulsory for banks and other creditors to offer mediation to farmers before commencing debt recovery proceedings on farm mortgages. A neutral and independent mediator assists the farmer and the creditor to try and reach agreement about current and future debt arrangements

More information from

Health and wellbeing

Mental Health and Wellbeing

For access to local mental health services contact the organisations listed below.

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) provides a range of information services to individuals, communities and service providers to link rural and remote people to the help they need. This includes information on where to access services, common mental illnesses and how to keep mentally healthy, as well as the Glove Box Guide to Mental Health.

Hunter and North Coast RAMHP contacts:

Southern contacts:

Central contacts:

Kids Helpline

  • Phone 1800 551 800 telephone counselling service 24 hours, seven days a week

Community Mental Health Line

  • Phone 1800 011 511

Mensline Australia

  • Phone 1300 789, 24 hours a day, 7 day telephone counselling for men

Beyondblue depression information line

  • Phone 1300 224 636


  • Phone 131114

Australian Red Cross

The Red Cross provides personal support during a disaster and an outreach service to affected households. Contact 1800 660 066 or (02) 49413200 in the Hunter area.

Black Dog Institute

  • Phone 9382 4530

The Salvation Army

For advice, personal support and referral to social services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Salvo Care Line 1300 36 36 22

For non-denominational counselling contact the Salvation Army Rural Chaplain

  • Central Western NSW: Trevor and Maree Strong phone 0411 235 965
  • Far West North NSW - Rusty & Di Lawson phone 0417797785
  • North NSW & Central West - Peter & Gene Ridley phone 0423 293 305, 0428 639 437
  • South Western NSW - Victor & Vicki Keenan phone 0428 653 151, 0418 202 669

St Vincent de Paul Rural Task force

Provides personal support, farm visits, advocacy, clothing and some financial assistance (02) 9560 2666

Dairy Australia: Dairy NSW / Murray Dairy / Sub Tropical Dairy

Tactics for tight times

Dairy Australia has produced this webpage for farmers on activities and supportive resources available to all farmers who are facing challenging circumstances.

Tips, tools and resources

Taking Stock Tool

The Taking Stock tool was developed for dairy farmers to use in conjunction with trained advisors. It helps farmers assess the current financial and physical health of their dairy farm businesses. Dairy NSW will have trained advisors available for one on one assistance. Dates to be confirmed.

  • Contact:
  • Dairy Cash Management Planner
  • Feed Budgeting Tool - with such a dry start in autumn and slow planting, fodder resources have been used earlier than normal. This tool will help you plan for your feed budget and look after your ryegrass and set up for spring to optimise production.
  • People in Dairy - Resources that help farmers manage their teams, be resilient and plan ahead.
  • DairyBase - Find out how you can use DairyBase to identify opportunities and make effective decisions on your farm including an annual farm performance review.

Dairy NSW


  • Greg Duncan (South Coast and Inland Extension Coordinator) phone 0477 044 047
  • Josh Hack (Lower Hunter and Mid Coast Extension Coordinator) phone 0488 277 133
  • Sheena Carter (Hunter Extension Coordinator part-time) phone 0427 434 412

Murray Dairy


  • Murray Dairy on 03 58 335 312 and you will be directed to the appropriate person

Dairy Australia


  • Katina Trout (Subtropical Dairy, Regional Extension Co-ordinator Northern NSW) phone 0427 916 650

If you don’t know who to call

NSW DPI Rural Resilience Program

Rural Resilience Officers and Rural Support Workers provide information on support available for farming families and can connect them to relevant service providers. If you need assistance please contact:

NSW DPI Dairy Staff

  • Kerry Kempton (based at Tocal) Technical Specialist Dairy 0427 114 602
  • Peter Havrlant (Based at Wagga) Development Officer, Dairy 0269 381 806 on 0418 540 076 on