Apply for the Rivers Fellowship and get skilled up to speak out for our rivers

We can keep our lifeblood flowing

Are you a passionate emerging leader living in the Murray-Darling Basin?

The Rivers Fellowship program gives leaders practical skills to campaign for healthier rivers. You'll learn strategy, messaging,  lobbying, advocacy and community mobilisation so you can run local campaigns in your area. 

Applications are now open.

For too long, people have taken too much from the rivers that sustain us. 

We have a Basin Plan to stop people from taking too much river water so the lifeblood for our wildlife, farms and cities keeps flowing.

But having a plan is one thing. Making it work is another.

We're looking to farmers, scientists, Traditional Owners, local businesses and leaders in the Basin to hold the long view, stand up to vested interests and make sure our rivers can keep flowing through our vast dry land. 

The Australian Conservation Foundation is partnering with the Lifeblood Alliance to train community leaders to run campaigns and empower their local communities to advocate for a healthy Murray-Darling Basin.  

We are calling for leaders to step forward.

What will you learn?

During the Rivers Fellowship, you'll learn practical skills to impact policy decisions and shape the public conversation on how to look after the rivers in our Basin. 

We will skill you up and support you to run local campaigns in your area including federated petitions, events, lobbying decision makers and mobilising people in your community to come to Canberra to meet with your elected representatives. 

Training and coaching

Training and coaching during the fellowship is delivered by experts in their fields – plus participants sharing their own valuable knowledge and experience from their communities. 

Training and coaching includes:

  • An intensive weekend retreat on changing the story (28-30 April) in Renmark
  • A second intensive retreat on building people power (27-29 May)
  • Eight webinars
  • Eight coaching sessions
  • Ongoing support and a small budget to run your own local campaign activities including community events in August
  • The Canberra Water Week Summit and fellowship graduation (14-16 October) 

The program has three phases:

  1. Changing the story (March to May)
  2. Building people power (May to September)
  3. Fixing the system (October onwards)

Phase 1: Change the story

Change the story weekend retreat (28-30 April)

How do governments, farmers and communities relate to each other and our rivers? What narratives shape these relationships and how can we influence them? In this workshop, you will explore: 

  • The rhythms of river ecology, drawing on the expertise of leading scientists, hydrologists and Indigenous leaders
  • How people have impacted these rhythms through policy and infrastructure
  • How to communicate the complexity of water issues and policies
  • Storytelling, campaigning and media skills

Phase 2: Build people power

People power weekend retreat (May 27-29)

This retreat focuses on how we can influence decision makers and build people power to win, including:

  • Understanding the political landscape and developing a political strategy
  • How to develop leadership capacity and mobilise people in your local community to advocate for healthy rivers over the long term

Local community events (August)

Run your own local event to mobilise people in your community to understand the issues, speak out and come to the Canberra Summit.

Phase 3: Fix the system

Water Week Summit – Canberra (14-16 October)

During the Rivers Fellowship, you will recruit teams from your local community to come to the Water Week Summit in Canberra. At the summit, communities from across the Basin will lobby Senators to fix Australia's water policy and protect our rivers. 

The summit is also the fellowship graduation – a time to reflect, celebrate and make plans for what comes next in your local community campaign for our rivers. 

Fellowship details

Fellowship cost

The fellowship fees are $220 – covering training, coaching, a small campaign budget and materials valued at over $3000 per participant. 

This includes:

  • 2 x intensive weekend retreats, including meals and accommodation in Mildura or Renmark
  • 8 x training webinars
  • 8 x coaching sessions
  • A small budget to run local campaign activities (events, petitions etc) 

Fellowship fees do not include travel to retreats or the Canberra Summit in October.

Scholarships are available for Indigenous applicants who are strongly encouraged to apply.


Selection criteria

Places are limited. Participants will be selected for the Rivers Fellowship based on:

  • Values alignment: You are passionately committed to restoring the health of rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin
  • Personal connection: You have a personal connection to the Murray or Darling rivers, tributaries, floodplains or estuaries 
  • Demonstrated leadership: You are a leader in your community
  • Commitment: You are willing to commit to developing your skills and actively campaigning for the Basin plan in 2017

Apply for the fellowship!

To change the story about the Murray-Darling Basin and fix the system, we must build connected and active community power.

So let's get on with it!

If you have any questions, just send an email to Bethany Koch.