What is 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 Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program (Round 2) grants are funded from 2019-20 to 2022-23. The second round of the program is open to 31 eligible communities including: those moderately impacted by water recovery activities under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan; those impacted by the proposed acquisition of water entitlements in the Lower Darling and Barwon-Darling, including A Class licences; and those announced as eligible during the 2019 federal election period. Only these identified communities are eligible for funding as part of this grant opportunity.



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 $15 million (GST exclusive) for the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program Round 2 grant opportunity. Each of the 31 communities has a notional allocation of $450,000 (GST exclusive). The grant opportunity will run from 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2023.

The minimum grant amount is $10,000 (GST exclusive). An application for grant funding below the set minimum amount will be deemed ineligible and the application will not be assessed.

There is no specific maximum grant amount but grants cannot exceed the amount of funds available for eligible communities. The notional allocation for each community is $450,000 (GST exclusive), and the assessment process outlined in Section 8.3 strongly advantages grant applications under this amount. The selection advisory panel may recommend grant applications seeking more than $450,000 (GST exclusive) for funding, but only if there is sufficient unallocated funding after projects equal to or less than $450,000 (GST exclusive) are recommended for funding.


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 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

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 20 January 2020 .


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