Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Grants

What is the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Grants Program?

The Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Grants Program is a funding for 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 Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, the Hon. Keith Pitt MP announced Round 3 as part of the Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package on 4 September 2020. This package of initiatives was designed to put communities and jobs at the heart of the Basin Plan.

Round 3 will provide quick investment and associated jobs to those regional communities impacted by water recovery under the Basin Plan at a time when they are facing increasing challenges brought about by COVID-19. Rounds 3 and 4 have been combined into a single round (Round 3) to
maximise the investment available to applicants and to do so as quickly as possible.

The grant opportunity will run from 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2022.



The objective of the program is to assist eligible communities to undertake economic development projects to respond to the impact of water  recovery activities under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The intended outcomes of the program are to: increase the capacity of eligible communities to diversify and strengthen local economies; enhance the resilience of these communities to manage current and future economic challenges and changes; and increase the opportunities for employment within these communities.



The Australian Government has announced a total of $34 million (GST exclusive) for the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program Round 3 grant opportunity.

The minimum grant amount is $50,000 (GST exclusive). An application for grant funding below the set minimum amount will be deemed ineligible and the application will not be assessed.

The notional maximum grant amount is $1,000,000 (GST exclusive). The selection advisory panel may recommend grant applications seeking more than $1,000,000 (GST exclusive) for funding, but only if they represent value with relevant money for the economic benefits sought (Criterion 1) in the time available.


Eligible Projects

To be eligible your grant activity must be in accordance with these guidelines and should meet the following requirements:

  • Eligible organisations are encouraged to collaborate with the broader eligible community and, as appropriate, act in partnership with other organisations to propose projects that stimulate economic activity and growth.
  • Eligible projects should be in the communities identified in the list in Section 5.2 of the guidelines and shown in the maps in Appendix A and must conduct economic development activities that will mitigate the effects of the Basin Plan water recovery activities in those 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 have to relate to irrigation or
    agriculture. Ideally, applications should bring enduring benefits to the entire eligible community.
  • Projects do not have to relate to irrigation or agriculture. Ideally, project proposals should both provide jobs and economic stimulus through the project delivery stage and also, where possible, bring enduring benefits to the entire eligible community. Those doing so will be considered most favourably.
  • Projects that undertake practical, on-ground works that address physical barriers to business development are particularly encouraged.

Projects should 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
  • assist 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.

The above list is not comprehensive and other project activities will be considered.


Eligible Applicants

The third round of the program is open to 38 eligible communities impacted by water recovery activities under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

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

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

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.



Applications close 12 April 2021.


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