March 18, 2020 Sharon Purcell

Wednesday, 18 March 2020
RURAL Queenslanders will be offered online and telephone financial counselling in response the threat of COVID-19 and non-essential travel for the team of Southern Queensland Financial Counsellors will cease.

Jenny Whip, Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland CEO wanted to reassure primary producers and small businesses that assistance provided by the RFCSSQ team will continue uninterrupted.
“On the advice being provided by medical and government officials, we will be changing our delivery models during the COVID-19 crisis.”
“Our industry has been through so much with droughts, floods and bushfires and we are very committed to ensure our assistance continues to be provided as a priority to those in need,” she said.

The RFCSSQ has contacted clients to offer non-contact appointments and CEO, Jenny Whip expects clients over 65 will accept the offer.
“We are immediately replacing all face to face appointments with clients over 65 years of age with telephone or Skype conversations.
This is to ensure that we are vigilant in protecting the health of older clients,” she said.
“Some of our clients have not been exposed to online assistance mechanisms before so we’ve been testing the best process and developed a set of instructions for clients with access to the necessary technology.”
“The telephone will be the source of communication for those that aren’t comfortable with or lack access to online options,” Jenny commented.

Fitting with Australian Government recommendations, RFCSSQ staff will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days if they have returned from overseas, have been in contact with a confirmed case or have any flu-like symptoms including a sore throat.
“Any staff member that is in contact with an unwell person is required to self-isolate, arrange a COVID-19 test and remain isolated until the test results are confirmed.”

From April 1, 2020, non-essential travel for Rural and Small Business Financial Counsellors will cease.
“We are adopting advice and information provided by our governments and we’ll assess and update the policy in relation to travel regularly and as required.”

Chair of the organisation, Karen Tully said the Coronavirus control measures include conducting business while maintaining distance to protect everyone.
“We’ll be enforcing the social distancing recommendations of the Australia government, disinfecting all office equipment between appointments and only meeting with clients that feel well, have no flu symptoms and haven’t travelled overseas in the last 14 days.
“It’s our responsibility to protect our staff, our clients and their families.”

The organisation has a number of events organised in March which have been cancelled.
“From the first of April, we will be considering event attendance by staff on a case by case basis but our preference will be for non-contact engagements.”

For further information, please contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service SQ on 07 46 22 55 00 or email