IN AN innovative $500,000 recruitment program announced this week, former banking personnel with years of financial experience will be contracted to assist the three regions of NSW Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) to help rural farming and business people access government financial help and counselling.
Additional to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's $1 million donation to kickstart the 2019 CommBank Christmas Drought Appeal supporting impacted communities through Rural Aid and Australian Red Cross, the bank has also earmarked $500,000 to support the recruitment of retired banking officers to support the RFCS.
Executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking, Grant Cairns, announced the financial counselling program with RFCS's Central West CEO, Jeff Caldbeck in Dubbo this week.
"One of the services' biggest challenges is the high demand by farmers and small businesses asking for help to access government support," Mr Cairns said.
"Mr Caldbeck told me of a former bank manager who had joined his team worked closely with people as he knew financial services, understood customers, farmers and regional communities, and that experience was invaluable.
"I approached our CEO, Matt Comyn, who visited Dubbo last weekend and agreed for us to mobilise our Christmas Appeal and begin the process of contracting former bankers to provide their experience."
Mr Cairns said CommBank and the NSWRFCS were working through the contractual arrangements.
"We hope by Christmas we can go to our retired officers who left the bank five to seven years ago and invite them to participate, and have people on the ground early in the new year. We have initially pledged $500,000 and if demand is greater, we may not stop there."
Mr Caldbeck said thanks to CommBank's generosity the program would be spread across the three regions.