Reef Rescue

 $200M program to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

 Reef Rescue



Reef Rescue is an ongoing and key component of Caring for our Country. Reef Rescue represents a coordinated approach to environmental management in Australia and is the single largest commitment ever made to address the threats of declining water quality and climate change to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Reef Rescue (2013–18) will focus on six integrated components within the six Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions:

Water Quality Grants and Partnerships

    • This component will increase the voluntary uptake of improved land management practices by landholders that will reduce the discharge of sediments, nutrients and pesticides into the Great Barrier Reef.

Systems Repair and Urban Grants

    • The Biodiversity Fund will support Reef Rescue by investing $40 million over the next five years to increase the Great Barrier Reef’s resilience to climate change. Funding will be available for wetland, riparian and mangrove protection, and restoration projects. A further $10 million of Caring for our Country funding will support planning and on-ground projects to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef from highly developed areas of the reef catchment.

Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting and Research and Development (R&D)

    • The water quality monitoring and reporting aims to track the progress of investment against the broader program objectives while monitoring the health of the Great Barrier Reef. The R&D will continue to improve the understanding of the link between agricultural and industrial impacts and health of the Great Barrier Reef. This will supplement the research being undertaken through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and National Environmental Research Program.

Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) Control

    • This component aims to decrease the impact of COTS by supporting tourism operators to continue to defend high value tourism sites. The program will also fund research on new control methods.

Land and Sea Country Partnerships

    • This component will continue to strengthen communications between local communities, Great Barrier Reef managers and stakeholders and build a better understanding of Traditional Owner use of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

    • Critical operational support for the GBRMPA as the cornerstone institution for community, business, monitoring and government management of the Great Barrier Reef. This operational support will allow GBRMPA to enhance the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, and maintain and develop their reef management systems and reef resilience programs.



Reef Rescue is a highly successful and valued component of Caring for our Country. It is an excellent example of a partnership between industry groups and regional natural resource management organisations. Key to its success is its collaborative design and delivery. Reef Rescue will continue to be funded in the second phase of Caring for our Country to:

    • facilitate increased adoption of land management practices that reduce run-off of nutrients, pesticides and sediments from agricultural land
    • increase farm profitability
    • improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

Reef Rescue will contribute to the following Caring for our Country five year outcomes:

    • better protect and conserve nationally and internationally significant ecosystems, species,ecological communities and landscapes, through actions that:
      • identify and address key threatening processes at a range of scales
      • enhance the condition, connectivity and resilience of habitats and landscapes by protecting or restoring ecosystem functions, including nutrient, water and energy flows
      • incorporate Indigenous ecological knowledge into planning and on ground outcomes
      • reflect a whole of landscape approach to biodiversity conservation.
    • build community capacity and connection with the environment, including through activities that re-establish urban bush land, areas of Indigenous significance and the health of urban waterways.


Eligible Projects

    • The proposed activities must be undertaken over a period of one to five years and be able to be completed by 30 June 2018.
    • All proposed on-ground activities must address the Investment Priorities.
    • All proposed on-ground activities must be within the Great Barrier Reef catchments as represented by the six natural resource management regions: Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics, Mackay Whitsunday Isaacs, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary. A mapping tool is available in the online application form.
    • Applicants will be asked to demonstrate that the on-ground works for which funding is being sought are within the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
    • Applicants should note that up to a maximum of 5 per cent of the grant amount may be dedicated to the costs associated with the monitoring and reporting activities that will be required by the Australian Government under the funding agreement.
    • The cost of project administration should not exceed 10 per cent of the total grant amount. Project administration may include setting up project management, or arranging for contractors and equipment. Amounts above this may be considered where there are extenuating circumstances, for instance where on-ground works are occurring in remote locations.
    • For Systems Repair projects proposed on public land, a contribution from the public land owner is required.


Eligible Applicants

Applicants for all components of Reef Rescue must be a legal entity. A legal entity capable of entering into a funding agreement with the Commonwealth must be one of the following:

    • an individual
    • an incorporated entity (incorporated association or incorporated joint venture)
    • a Corporations Act corporation
    • a partnership
    • a trustee of a trust
    • an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander corporation, council or incorporated association
    • a government related entity (excluding Commonwealth agencies subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act1997 (FMA Act)).

Applicants must have, or be able to obtain before the agreed date of commencement (and provide a declaration to this effect):

    • written consent of any organisation or individual the applicant partners with or represents on the project, including relevant Traditional Owners
    • all necessary planning, regulatory or other approvals, to ensure all project activities are completed within the designated timeframe
    • no overdue reports or acquittals from previous Australian Government funded projects, except where alternative timeframes have been agreed by the Australian Government
    • an assurance from each organisation or individual the applicant will partner with or represents on the project that they have no overdue reports or acquittals from previous Australian Government funded projects.



The Australian Government is providing more than $2 billion for the second phase of Caring for our Country. The$200 million, five year Reef Rescue program is one component of Caring for our Country. Of this $200 million, notional funding of $148 million has been allocated to Water Quality Grants and Partnerships and System Repair and Urban Grants.



Water Quality Grants and Partnerships applications close at 2PM AEST May 22 2013.

Systems Repair and Urban Grants applications close at 2PM AEST May 29 2013.


Expert Assistance

Writing a good quality grant application is a critical element in the application process. An application needs to be well thought through, written concisely, have clear objectives and purpose, and show clear links to the objectives of the grant guidelines.

The grant application must answer all questions, provide all required information and respond to the merit criteria. It should also reflect your organisation’s business strategy.

Writing a good application takes time and effort, and requires particular writing skills.

Bulletpoint are expert grant consultants and can assist with all aspects of grant preparation. We are an independent grants consultancy and is not affiliated, associated, endorsed by any government agency.

Call us on (03) 9005 6789 or email to discuss further.


Additional Information

    • Reef Rescue Applicant Guidelines
    • Australian Government investment Prioritisation
    • Reef Rescue Frequently Asked Questions
    • 2013-14 Reef Rescue – Water Quality Grants Application Form
    • 2013-14 Reef Rescue – Water Quality Partnerships application Form

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