“Thrive not just Survive”


Are you a small business with less than 20 employees and doing it a bit tough on the back end of Drought, Bushfires and now COVID-19?

The Drought Communities Small Business Support Program may be able to help.

This program is an Australian Government initiative aimed at assisting eligible small businesses impacted by Drought, Bushfires and now COVID-19.

Under the program, small business financial counselling is provided free of charge by the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) NSW Northern Region, by experienced Rural Business Support Financial Counsellors.


  • free and confidential financial counselling;
  • assist eligible small businesses impacted by Drought, Bushfire, Natural Disaster including COVID-19 to understand their financial position and identify options and implement plans to improve the viability of their enterprise;
  • provide clients assistance with access to specialist third-party advice, such as financial planning, legal, specialist taxation and accounting advice;
  • understand the benefits and drawbacks of different options to manage financial issues;
  • develop budgets and cash flows;
  • help with negotiations with creditors;
  • access dispute resolution services;
  • understand their rights and access broader professional advice and support; and
  • access government and community grants, programs or schemes.

Small Business Financial Counsellors are located in the Northern Rivers, New England, Inverell, Armidale and Taree areas.

1800 344 090


Julie Harris – Northern Rivers

Julie is a hard working, organised, dedicated and compassionate professional that has extensive first hand knowledge of the challenges that small businesses can face.

She has a strong background in project management, digital marketing, graphic design, business operations and management and the hospitality industry. Julie has built, owned and operated two successful restaurants in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. Her past involvement in small business and her life experiences results in a deep understanding of the many challenges faced by small business operators today.

Prior to joining the RFCSNSW-NR, Julie owned and operated a business consulting service, specialising in business strategy and analysis. Her qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Business, Communication Major
  • Certificate IV in Certificate IV in New Small Business.

Farrelly House
Level 1, Suite 2/75 Magellan Street,
PO Box 54, Lismore NSW 2480.
Mobile: 0418 503 297

Sandy Stanford – New England

Sandy has over 12yrs experience supporting clients in the not-for-profit Community Services Sector with expertise in Financial Counselling Program Management, Supervision, Client Casework, Financial Assessment, Financial Literacy Education and Small Business operation. Sandy has a great empathy for others and is a strong advocate for social justice. Sandy has spent her career working with CatholicCare Wilicannia-Forbes managing a team of Financial Counsellors throughout Central and Far Western NSW. Sandy has a methodical approach to problem solving and encourages the sharing of knowledge to improve team performance and client outcomes. She is dedicated to providing her clients with focused information and options, high level creditor advocacy, negotiation and dispute resolution and referral access to professional services. Sandy is a small business owner and operator in the Childcare Industry experiencing first hand the challenges of business management, analysis, viability and operation. Her qualifications include: Certificates in Community Services, Financial Services and Accounting, Frontline Management, Supervision, Training and Assessment, Small Business and is a Justice of the Peace.

The Atrium
Suite 21, 345 Peel Street, Tamworth NSW 2340
Mobile: 0418 741 967

Tania O’Hara – Armidale

Tania’s expertise is the culmination of a unique blend of skills and diverse experience, crafted, refined, and matured over 15 years in accounting, finance and as a small business owner. Tania is a business and accounting management professional with extensive experience managing small business growth with an emphasis on sound financial management and business development. Accounting and financial planning qualified with former CPA credentials, one of Tania’s greatest achievements outside of managing client financials, has been as a small business owner. Not only is Tania adept in financial planning, budgeting, forecasting, business operations, and leading a small business, she also has intrinsic knowledge and understanding of the challenges faced by SMEs and the passion and determination it takes to succeed.

Shop 20 126/128 Beardy Street,
PO Box 867, Armidale, NSW 2350.
Mobile: 0418 430 270

Kristi Petersen – Taree

Kristi is a highly regarded professional with experience in Senior Management, having a deep passion for developing businesses. An experienced Strategic Planner graduating from Deakin University, Kristi has a demonstrated history of working in the investment management industry being skilled in Asset Management, Retirement Planning, Estate Planning, Financial Risk, and Risk Management. Kristi’s key strengths are broad, with corporate operating experience overseeing strategy and management of all aspects of Finance, Technology, Administration, Risk Management & Compliance with a solid reputation for execution and innovation having worked in both start up and turnaround situations. Experienced in stakeholder management across Government and Community Organisations, Kristi is aligned positively with people and driving employee engagement having an established record for lifting satisfaction and advocacy, growing market share and improving customer retention in both small and large business situations. Married and residing on the Mid North Coast of NSW with her two daughters and menagerie of animals, Kristi enjoys horse breeding and helping manage the family’s cattle property as time permits.

Suite 1/23 Pulteney,
PO Box 906, Taree NSW 2430
Mobile: 0427 458 647

Colin Ritchie – Inverell

Colin believes that small business is the backbone of a regional town and is passionate about helping businesses to “Unlock the Profit they Deserve”.

His professional career has been based predominately in Inverell, working for many years as a partner in two local accounting firms , firstly as a Chartered Accountant, then as a financial planner. More recently he has operated a specialist business providing profit improvement advice to both small professional practices and other small businesses.

Colin has for many years presented a short radio called “Making Money”, which is focused on helping people make more money without working any harder.
He is a past president of the Inverell Chamber of Commerce and a member of Inverell East Rotary Club.
Colin is married with two adult children and enjoys birdwatching , travel and sports.

3/132 Otho Street ,
Inverell NSW 2360
Mobile: 0428 098 841