We can keep our lifeblood flowing

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

Join the Rivers Fellowship program and develop practical skills to campaign for healthy rivers!

You'll learn strategy, messaging, lobbying, advocacy and community organising so you can run local campaigns in your area. 

Find out more about the 2018 fellowship 

Apply now

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'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 2017 River Fellows are emerging as leaders in their communities and leveraging key moments in the campaign to galvanise local support. 

We are now calling for the next group of leaders to step up in 2018 and carry this campaign 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 community organising, media, mobilising tactics, 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:

  • Three intensive weekend retreats
  • 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 (October 2018) 

The program has three phases:

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

"People Power" Workshop

Renmark, SA | March 23-25

Building our power to protect our rivers

This retreat focuses on how we can build people power to stand up for our rivers, including:

  • Understanding power, why we need it and how to build it.
  • Our relationship with the river and Indigenous connection
  • How to organise powerful communities across the Basin
  • Developing leadership and building teams
  • Effective workshop facilitation


"Change the Story" Workshop

Adelaide | May 12-14

Telling a different story about the river

At this retreat, you will explore: 

  • Introduction to narrative strategy and the power of framing stories
  • Unpacking the dominant narrative about the river
  • Why we need to change story about the river
  • How to craft powerful personal and collective narratives that inspire people to take action
  • How to use social and traditional media to shift public conversation

"Fix The System" Workshop

Seymour & Melbourne | 22-24 July

Mobilising grassroots advocates to fix the system.

This retreat focuses on how we can mobilise grassroots advocates to influence decision makers, including:

  • How to exert grassroots pressure on elected representatives to hold them accountable
  • Understanding power and water policy
  • Developing a political strategy
  • How to train local advocates to meet with elected representatives
  • How to build community power for the long term to hold onto policy wins

National Water Week Summit

Canberra (October 2018)

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 decision makers 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 $350 – covering training, coaching, a small campaign budget and materials valued at over $3000 per participant. 

This includes:

  • 3 x intensive weekend retreats, including meals and accommodation in Renmark, Mildura and either Adelaide or Melbourne
  • 8 x training webinars
  • 8 x coaching sessions
  • A small budget to run local campaign activities (campaigner training, petitions, town hall events etc.) 

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

Scholarships are available for Indigenous applicants who are strongly encouraged to apply. Scholarships may be extended to cover travel expenses as well as fellowship costs.

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 committed to developing your skills, actively campaigning for the Basin plan in 2018 and setting up a local group or network. 

Apply now

Curious? Any questions?

Check out these FAQs and see what the 2017 River Fellows got up to

Come to an information night online or in person. 

You can also book a time to chat with Beth at a time that works for you or email bethany.koch@acf.org.au.

Apply now

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!

Express your interest

If you have any questions, check out these FAQs, book a time to talk to ACF community organiser Bethany Koch or email Bethany.Koch@acf.org.au.