Up to $20M is available from the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Grants to support those communities identified as most impacted by water recovery under the Basin Plan.


Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Grants Program

The Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Grants Program will assist eligible communities to undertake economic development projects to respond to the impact of water recovery activities under the Basin Plan. The outputs of the program are the number of jobs created as a result of the economic development projects and the number of projects supporting activities that continue after projects end.



The Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Grants Program was announced by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources on 7 May 2018, as part of the Basin Plan Commitments Package, to support those communities identified as most impacted by water recovery under the Basin Plan.

The Australian Government has committed up to $20 million to this program to support economic development projects in eligible Basin communities from 2018-19 to 2021-22. The department has identified five communities in the northern Basin and ten communities in the southern Basin as communities eligible for funding as those most impacted by water recovery activities under the Basin Plan.

The economic development projects would assist with:

  • increasing the capacity of communities to diversify and strengthen local economies
  • enhancing the resilience of communities to manage current and future economic challenges and changes
  • increasing opportunities for employment within communities.



A notional allocation of around $1 million (GST exclusive) is available for economic development projects in each eligible community to address the economic impacts faced by the communities because of water recovery activities through the Basin Plan. Communities with a number of highly
ranked economic development applications are likely to receive more funding than their notional funding. The amount of funding approved for any particular community is at the discretion of the decision maker.

The set minimum grant amount for each eligible project is $10,000 (GST exclusive) and the maximum grant amount for each eligible project will be $500,000 (GST exclusive). The total for all grants cannot exceed the amount of available funds.


Eligible Projects

To be eligible your project must be in accordance with these guidelines. Eligible organisations are encouraged to collaborate with the broader community and, as appropriate, act in partnership with other organisations to propose projects that stimulate economic activity and growth to mitigate the effects of Basin Plan water recovery activities in the communities.

Broadly, the program supports projects that create economic development and employment opportunities. This would include innovative projects or proposals to build community capacity to make the most of the resources available. Projects do not necessarily need to relate to irrigation or
agriculture. Ideally, applications should bring enduring benefits to the whole eligible community.

Projects would involve activities to support the unique situations faced by eligible communities and may:

  • focus on future economic development needs through the development of non-technical skills such as business management, risk management, strategic planning and leadership in order to support resilience and adaptive management capability
  • strengthen workforce capabilities through skills and capabilities development, entrepreneurialism, resilience and adaptive capacities in ways that are enduring
  • deliver Indigenous-focussed outcomes
  • develop industry clusters or networks that bring together representatives of regional businesses, research centres and other partners
  • integrate new technology or processes for improved capability, productivity and competitiveness
  • help local businesses and industries (including tourism) to grow and/or diversify, attracting new investment and new job creation
  • address barriers to commerce such as inadequate mobile or internet services, or local banking opportunities
  • address environmental needs, including management, education and tourism
  • address infrastructure challenges impacting on industry sustainability or expansion
  • improve infrastructure, plant or equipment for enhanced efficiency and competitiveness of local industry
  • strengthen supply chain efficiencies and linkages
  • deliver strategic planning that addresses and responds to the economic challenges a community faces as a result of water recovery activities under the Basin Plan
  • leverage other Commonwealth or State grant programs to increase the value of the grant.


Eligible Applicants

To be eligible, you must be one of the following entity types:

  • Local Government
  • Indigenous Corporation
  • Cooperative
  • Incorporated Association.

Applications from consortia are acceptable, as long as you have a lead applicant who is solely accountable to us for the delivery of grant activities and is an eligible entity as per the list above.

Applicants must also meet the additional eligibility requirements listed below:

  • be a not-for-profit organisation
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN) or be willing to obtain one prior to the execution of the Grant Agreement
  • have an account with an Australian financial institution.


Eligible Locations

Economic development projects must be delivered in or for the benefit of an eligible community.

Eligible community areasState
St GeorgeQLD
Red CliffsVIC
Swan ReachSA
Lower LakesSA



Applications close 10 March 2019.


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