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Wayne Stephen

Wayne has been a Rural Financial Counsellor for some 17 years in both South West and North West Victoria, and has an enormous wealth of experience and expertise in this role. He brings to the service a substantial scope of experience in small business management, paralegal and community welfare. He has been able to tailor his rural community lifestyle and empathy towards small business and farming enterprises to great advantage and is more than familiar with the issues faced by these enterprises.

Wayne was a member of the inaugural group of attendees to attain the Diploma of Community Service (Financial Counselling) and has undertaken formal training in mediation, negotiation, conflict resolution, Case Management; Train the Trainer together with a substantial participation in other training and professional development courses. Wayne was also a graduate of the Loddon Murray 2000Plus Leadership Program in the year 2000.

18Patrick White

Patrick White

Patrick White has worked with the Rural Financial Counselling Service as a Counsellor since 2005. He operates out of the Horsham office servicing farmers across the Wimmera district and beyond. Before joining the Rural Financial Counselling Service Patrick worked as an accountant and a lawyer from his small practice based in Murtoa. This background in commercial law; dispute resolution and business skills has provided excellent experience to assist farmers with understanding their current financial situation. Patrick grew up in the Wimmera before moving east to Geelong to complete degrees in commerce and law. He returned to the Wimmera in 2002 after finishing his studies. He currently lives on a small block at Toolondo. Patrick completed the Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling) in 2006. Patrick has a keen interest in helping people understand their current financial situation so they can make better choices for their future.

Vince Thorne

Vince Thorne joined WSWRFCS in 2005 after 15 years working as both a financial counsellor and agricultural consultant in the south west of Victoria where he specialised in working with “financially at risk” dairy farmers.

His practical experience is from 23 years of owning and managing his own dairy farm as well as running a small business servicing the rural community in which he lives. This has given him a good understanding of the pressures faced by the rural community, in particular farmers.

Vince started his working life teaching farm apprentices and developed pilot post apprentice courses in both farm and financial management. This experience, added to his own qualifications has given him a great theoretical background for farming.

His educational qualifications include Bachelor Agricultural Science, Diploma of Education, and numerous short courses in farm management, negotiation and alternative dispute resolution. He is also a nationally accredited mediator with a wide range of experience in dispute resolution. This has meant he has developed an understanding of human behaviour and nature in difficult life experiences, including bankruptcy, farm debt mediation, and loss of intergeneration farms.


Sarah Moncrieff

Sarah has had vast experience in the Financial Services industry over the past 22 years, and worked as a Qualified Financial Planner in Warrnambool for 16 of these years. Through her Financial Planning experience Sarah has assisted many rural families navigate the complicated area of intergenerational change, and has a strong background of Government Support Services, such as Centrelink.

Sarah provides Financial Counselling and support to Primary Producers, with an emphasis on Dairy Farms throughout South West Victoria

Sarah is currently undertaking further studies of a Diploma of Financial Counselling to strengthen her qualifications.


Michael White

Michael is based at the Horsham Office of the Rural Financial Counselling Service. Michael is a Certified Practising Accountant and lives in Horsham with his family. ​He started working in Horsham in 1998. Michael has been an accountant for over 19 years and has experience in income tax, bookkeeping, financial and management accounting. Michael has operated a small business for six years as a registered tax agent. This experience has allowed Michael to gain the skills necessary to assist in exploring and understanding their current financial situation.

Mal Rowe

Mal has 30 years of experience in the agricultural industry specializing in soil, land and water. He holds a Bachelor of Natural Resources Management. His career journey includes working in catchment management, Landcare, local government, farmer organisations, communications and farm management. In his downtime, he likes nothing better than walking through mountains or winding back on beaches.

Throughout his career, Mal has participated in any number of short courses, including conflict negotiation, communication and mediation, farm and commodity management, and has convened many community group meetings and discussions. He has a passion for promoting the development of renewable energy options.

Mal has a heightened understanding of the challenges facing farmers and rural communities generally and brings a level of empathy to his task of shining the torch forward through periods of financial uncertainty for his clients. He is a good listener, and can help clarify goals and identify paths to achieve them.


Ken Dodds

Ken commenced work with the team at the Wimmera South West Victoria Rural Financial Counselling Service in February 2016. As a third generation active cropping farmer in the Victorian Western Wimmera with properties at Nhill, Lorquon and Glenlee, Ken has an enduring passion for farming and great confidence in the future of Australian agriculture.

Ken’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Business with a major in Economics, completed at the Deakin University in Warrnambool and a Graduate Diploma of Education from the University of Melbourne.

This academic background has led to off-farm career ventures highlighted by an extended time working in the Business Faculty of the University of Melbourne, as a business and investment lecturer and as co-ordinator of the rural business distance education program. This program was delivered to large enrolment numbers of mature age students across Victoria and Tasmania and featured hands on delivery of a wide range of computer and accounting units

Additional qualifications as an accredited computer consultant with Reckon Accounts, QuickBooks and Quicken and as a registered BAS agent, with the Tax Practioner’s Board, have also contributed to further professional work off-farm.

In the above context, interaction and work on behalf of our rural business clients is approached with empathy in a positive and pro-active manner. It is a pleasure to work in such a dynamic and important environment as financial providers, staff and clients are invariably brought closer together with accurately prepared business and financial information, facilitated by confident and respectful communication.

Saul Moncrieff

Saul has joined us recently after spending almost 25 years in and around the Dairy industry. From working, share farming and managing dairy and cropping enterprises, Saul brings a wealth of experience in every day seasonal farm management.

Saul’s early years were working on beef and sheep properties in the Western District of Victoria and then he completed his Advanced Diploma of Applied Science (Farm Management) at the Glenormiston campus. Saul has also owned and operated a manufacturing business for seven years. 

George Leishman

George has been involved in agriculture since completing VCE in 1995. After jackarooing in WA on a cattle station near Shark Bay, he continued working on a vast cropping property in the northern wheat belt at Mingenew, where he operated all facets of machinery. George then returned and completed his Advanced Diploma of Business (Banking & Finance) and took on roles at AWB in logistics and assisting the feed wheat trade book for Victoria.

George returned to the family property in the Western Districts, helping run a 60/40 cropping and fat lamb operation with his family. Through the drier years, George’s attention was involved in a R&D role with a company designing a fertiliser biopolymer product to assist with better utilising fertiliser in broad acre cropping practice. A further tenure in the fertiliser industry followed with a focus on recyclables and the organics/ humates/ compost field.