Board Members

Above left to right: Peter Wright, Paul Sullivan, Richard Lawson, Don Ward, Ian McGufficke (Executive Officer), Linda Hague, Mark Hall and Brian McCleary.

Chair David Needham: David Needham has seen a lot of change in the demand for services and the delivery of these by the RFCS in his years, firstly a counsellor, and as a long- standing board member.

Based in Sutton, David is an ambassador for the RFCS in the Southern Highlands.

As a board member, David believes the service must continue to evolve to ensure it provides farmers and people in rural Australia with the right services and support for their changing needs.

He says because farmers are traditionally asset rich and cash poor, and combined with an ageing rural population, the RFCS must ensure it delivers information and referral services that are relevant and effective.

David has a background in IT, which is increasingly valuable to the board and the organisation. He also brings expert business and negotiation skills to the table.

Vice Chair Paul Sullivan: Based on the Monaro, Paul has a background in farming and business. He brings to the RFCS an independent, private sector business approach that is realistic and forward thinking.

With a background in corporate analysis, Paul is a strong negotiator with expertise in risk and finance assessment and strategic planning.

He is a long-standing board member who has a staunch interest in the welfare of rural Australia and particularly farmers. Paul believes we need strong communities in rural Australia and that farmers are critical to the makeup of our society.

He says a string of bad seasons and poor terms of trade has made it increasingly difficult for farmers and rural communities.

The RFCS is an important resource to help manage the consequences of these conditions in regional areas.

Treasurer Brian McCleary: As an accountant based in Deniliquin, with offices in Hay and Barham, Brian McCleary knows the hardships that rural people face in his region.

He says the board’s main role at present is to ensure continued funding and appropriate resources for the service.

He says he’s keen to see government services expanded in our region and that anything the board can do will make a difference at this point in time.

Involved in the RFCS since its inception and also in previous models, Brian has provided expert financial and accounting skills to the board for many years.

Board member Laureta Wallace: Laureta is a public relations professional specialising in the issues impacting agriculture and rural Australia. Currently, Laureta is the General Manager of Media & Communications with the National Farmers’ Federation, the peak body representing Australian farmers, based in Canberra. Laureta cut her teeth in media as a regional print journalist, in NSW and later in Western Australia. While in the West, Laureta held senior roles with the renowned Kondinin Group and in the grains industry. She also spent time as a political media advisor. Laureta is the former Secretary of the Australian Council of Agriculture Journalists and the former President of the Rural Press Club of Western Australia. Laureta holds a Bachelor of Communications, Bachelor of Laws and Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Laureta has a life-long affinity with agriculture and regional communities hailing from her family’s sheep and cattle property near Dalgety on the spectacular Monaro.

Secretary Fiona Wade: With over twenty years working within the communications and media industry, Fiona joined the Board of the Rural Financial Counselling Service – Southern Region in 2017. A former journalist with the Australian Financial Review, Channel 7 and the BBC, Fiona moved into public affairs in the early 2000’s and has since worked across numerous industries, Liberal and Labor backbenchers and now works for the Police Federation of Australia. Once the media and communications manager for the Cattle and Sheepmeat Councils’ of Australia, Fiona has since submitted her PhD on the 2011 live export crisis.

A resident of Goulburn, Fiona joined the RFCS with the aim of assisting the service in raising its profile and to reach out to those farmers and associated businesses, who may be in need of financial help.

Board member Mac McArthur: Mac is an agricultural consultant and farmer with a background in working with and supporting farming and rural communities throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands.

His family operate a sheep, cropping and beef pastoral company in the Southern Riverina and he has managed other farming enterprises. He has had extensive experience assisting farming families and rural businesses to recover from drought, major fires and agricultural commodity financial downturns.

Having been trained in farm business management and extension as well as leading teams of government staff providing services to farmers and rural communities he empathises strongly with rural communities and their needs.

With the prediction of a world population of 9.8 billion people in 2050, farmers and the associated rural businesses must be assisted to not only be financially viable and but to thrive despite, droughts, commodity downturns and other disasters and the Rural Financial Counselling Service support is critical in ensuring this.