One year after flooding washed through homes and businesses in north Queensland - help is still available for rural operations and small businesses struggling to get back to full operation.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service North Queensland has dedicated rural and small business counsellors based in North Queensland who can help rural and non-rural businesses to access State and Federal Government funding, loans and grants as well as assist in looking closely at the state of your finances to come up with options for you to improve your situation.
The service has helped more than 200 people who have been flood affected in the region from Townsville, west to the Northern Territory border over the past year.
Small Business Support
One of those is Townsville based panel beater, Shannon Pope who says he’s still playing catch up since floodwaters inundated his home, flooded his office and the humidity damaged his machinery, costing his business more than $150 000.
“I’m still waiting for my house to be fixed but my business has bounced back since I got in touch with small business financial counsellor, Gerard Byrne,” Mr Pope said.
Since working with RFCSNQ the father of two has replaced equipment with a Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) grant, is getting assistance to submit the paperwork for a resilience grant and has received tailored mentorship and support.
“The assistance from the small business counsellor has been instrumental in getting back on our feet, finally we are starting make up some ground on what we have lost,” he said.
What made all the difference in the “worst year of his life” was being able to meet with Mr Byrne face to face on an ongoing basis.
“The pop ins, the catch ups, having someone who listened, and you could talk to was and continues to be a great support. Greard knew who to contact and what assistance was available, and as my situation changed, he was able to help provide more options for me to consider,” Mr Pope said.
There are two dedicated small business counsellors based in Townsville, any small businesses impacted by the flooding are urged to get in contact as a priority.
“Some small businesses may be eligible to apply for existing Disaster Funding that closes in February. It is essential that they contact us at the earliest opportunity to determine if they are eligible for assistance,” Small Business Counsellor Gerard Byrne said.
“It is important that small businesses take full advantage of the services and opportunities available. Often, small businesses aren't always aware of the opportunities. For example, the Queensland Government offers Small Business Digital Grants, and businesses should be preparing now to apply for future rounds,” Mr Byrne said.
Rural Business Support
Since the flooding, Rural Financial Counsellor Glenn Budden has clocked up more than three and a half thousand kilometres a month to make sure any primary producer who needs help with their financial recovery can get it, but he says there’s more work to be done.
“Additional financial stress will be felt by producers, especially those who have accumulated higher debts levels than normal during the drought years,” Mr Budden said.
“Most grazing operations will have a cashflow deficit over the next year, some the next 2 to 3 years, mainly because they lost cows and calves so don’t have cattle to sell this year,” he said.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service is independent of QRIDA, Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) and lending institutions so we can assist you in getting the best outcome with these organisations.
“My greatest concern for struggling producers is for them to not follow through with the recovery assistance that has been made available.
“Producers may self-assess based on poor information or simply be struggling to get started on an application because it looks daunting and too hard to complete,” Mr Budden said.
RFCSNQ counsellors can provide assistance to complete the applications and to locate or provide the additional assistance that may be requested.