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 2018.

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 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:

  • 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 May
  • The Canberra Water Week Summit and fellowship graduation (October 2018) 

The program has three phases:

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

Phase 1: Change the story

Change the story weekend retreat – Renmark (February 2018)

At this retreat, 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 – in regional NSW or VIC (May 2018)

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

  • Understanding the political landscape and developing a political strategy
  • Developing leadership capacity and mobilising people in your local community for our rivers
  • Planning a local event for your community to inspire them to care and get involved. 

Phase 3: Fix the system

Fix the system weekend retreat - Adelaide (June 2018)

This retreat focuses on how we can influence decision makers, including:

  • Understanding the policy and management and developing a political strategy
  • How to meet with your elected representatives
  • How to successfully advocate for good policy, strong leadership, and equitable governance
  • How the community can hold onto policy wins in the long term

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 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:

  • 3 x intensive weekend retreats, including meals and accommodation in Renmark, Mildura (TBC) and Adelaide
  • 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 willing to commit to developing your skills and actively campaigning for the Basin plan in 2018

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!



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

Bethany.Koch@acf.org.au