Strengthening ties with Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC)

Victorian Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell visited Mildura today and met with some of the Rural Financial Counselling team from Rural Financial Counselling Service Victoria – North West. Ms O’Connell discussed the new expanded strategy of the VSBC, with a particular emphasis on advocacy and dispute resolution. The VSBC is able to assist small businesses to resolve disputes, regardless of business type. While Agriculture Victoria administers the Farm Debt Mediation Act, the VSBC is involved in providing independent mediation services when the farmer and the creditor agree to mediate.

From Left: Stephanie Ferdelja, David Talbot, Ashley Kuhl, Teresa O’Brien, Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell, John Sheehy and Graeme Polkinghorne

The Rural Financial Counselling Service has assisted scores of Victorian farmers to prepare for and participate in the Farm Debt Mediation process since the Act was introduced in 2011. Our service is free and confidential and our experience in the Farm Debt Mediation process, extensive. Preparation is essential to getting a positive outcome in mediation. A Rural Financial Counsellor can assist farmers to budget, assess options and plan a strategy to achieve their goals. Farmers who are in financial difficulty, whose relationship with their bank is deteriorating or who have received an invitation to attend Farm Debt Mediation, are encouraged to phone 1300 769 489 without delay. Strict time limits apply to Farm Debt Mediation notices.

More information on Farm Debt Mediation is available at Victorian Small Business Commission or Agriculture Victoria.