Stand By Your River


  • Monica Morgan, Yorta Yorta woman. Barmah National Park

Mass fish kills. Looming drought. Australia’s biggest river system is under threat.

If we want thriving wetlands, healthy communities and water justice for First Nations, we need to raise our voices and stand by our rivers. Add your photo and story.

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The problem: Australia’s biggest river system is sick

The Murray-Darling is a mighty system of rivers, lakes and wetlands. From the source to the sea, it covers a large part of south-eastern Australia.

More than 2 million people rely on water in the Murray-Darling, including more than 40 First Nations. Hundreds of Australian native animals – fish, frogs and water birds – depend on regular flows to floodplains and wetlands for their survival.

But after years of mismanagement, the Murray-Darling is sick. In the last decade we’ve seen dry riverbeds, toxic algae blooms and massive fish kills.

While the river system is complex, the core problem is simple – too much water is being taken from the river. Big corporates have been allowed to dominate the water market. It’s left rivers and communities high and dry, while First Nations still have little rights over their lands and water, despite decades of promises.

The solution: A new vision to revive our rivers

More water for rivers
Natural rhythm of river flows
Water rights for Traditional Owners
Resilient regional communities
Water market within ecological limits

See the full 5 point vision for the Murray-Darling here

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A lifeline for the Murray-Darling

In December 2023, the federal government passed the Restoring Our Rivers Bill. It means the government can start buying water again to benefit the environment – a solution that’s been off the table since 2015. It gives us the strongest assurance yet that 450 billion litres of water promised for the river system will actually be delivered. Plus, it opens the door for crucial improvements on First Nations water rights.

It delivers a vital lifeline for the river ahead of looming drought – and it’s thanks to thousands of Australians across the Basin speaking up and demanding action.

Now we need to hold the federal government accountable to deliver on what they’ve promised. We need to make sure all governments, most notably Victoria, come to the table, and we need to raise the bar on what’s possible for the next iteration of the Basin Plan. Together, we can continue growing our movement to build a collective vision of what’s possible in the Murray-Darling.

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About Us

The Murray-Darling Conservation Alliance is a national voice for the rivers, wetlands and wildlife of the Murray-Darling. Members include conservation groups in every Basin state – NSW, Vic, SA and QLD – representing half a million people in rural communities and east-coast cities. Each group has been advocating for the environment at a state level for more than 50 years. Together we have a shared vision for healthy inland rivers.

Our offices are located across south-eastern Australia, and we work across many Aboriginal nations. We recognise both water and land were stolen from First Nations people and sovereignty was never ceded. Over-extraction and water markets have doubled down on this dispossession – further damaging Country, disempowering Traditional Owners in water management and denying their share of wealth made from their land. Until we address this history, any pursuit of reconciliation will remain out of reach. Recognising self-determination means returning water to support cultural traditions and community development. We need to make sure First Nations have a say over how rivers and Country are managed.

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Authorised by Jono La Nauze, CEO Environment Victoria, 60 Leicester Street Carlton 3053.