Joint media release: Grants to improve the health of rivers and wetlands in the Murray–Darling Basin

2 March 2021

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, the Hon Keith Pitt MP
Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP
Senator for New South Wales, Senator Perin Davey


Basin farmers, landholders and community organisations are eligible for $6 million in grants to deliver practical on-ground projects that improve the health of rivers and wetlands in the Murray–Darling Basin.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, said the $20 million Murray–Darling Healthy Rivers Program opens tomorrow (March 3), and is about putting people, jobs and the environment centre stage.

“The first round for the Healthy Rivers Program will offer $6 million in grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 to assist Basin communities to maintain the health of their local streams and wetlands,” Minister Pitt said.

“While eligible projects will look different across the Basin, they will all focus on the health of the river and will benefit the Basin, its people, industries and particularly the environment.”

Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, said the grants give local organisations a direct role in looking after the Basin.

“That could be anything from installing grazing exclusion fences along riverbanks, through to measures to control invasive plants or animals in wetlands. 

“It really does allow our local farmers and communities a say in ensuring money is going where it’s needed most to protect the health of our important waterways.”

“These grants will help stimulate our local, regional economies recovering from the impacts of drought and COVID-19 by supporting local jobs and businesses in the Basin.” Ms Ley said.

Senator for New South Wales Perin Davey said Basin communities had a say in designing the program.

“It was important that we have engaged the community to ensure funding meets the on-ground needs of each region and I thank everyone who took the time to share their views, which led to real improvements in the guidelines,” Senator Davey said.

“I encourage all farmers, community groups and First Nations communities in the Basin to look at the guidelines for the first round of the Healthy Rivers Program and submit an application if they are eligible.”

Minister Pitt said there will be further opportunities under the program.

“Two further rounds will open in July 2021, offering a further $14 million in grants to support economic recovery through investing in local knowledge to improve river health.

Applications will open from tomorrow and will close on 31 March 2021. For more information on how to apply, visit the Community Grants Hub.