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Drought in the Murray–Darling Basin

Farmers and communities across many locations in the Murray–Darling Basin are currently experiencing severe drought conditions.

The Murray–Darling Basin cannot be ‘drought-proofed’. Sadly, drought is a natural part of Australia’s climate, and climate change is predicted to increase drought frequency and severity in the Basin.

When it’s dry, the whole river system suffers—including the animals, fish and birds that rely on the Basin for survival. The health and sustainability of the rivers, wetlands and floodplains is important to the sustainability of the whole Basin.

Drought and the Basin Plan

The Basin Plan prepares for drought by ensuring water is managed for all users—the environment, farmers, and communities.

The Basin Plan ensures that in times of drought, water is prioritised for critical human needs—across the Basin water will be provided to communities for drinking and household water, before being allocated for any other use.

All water entitlement holders are treated equally, and in times of drought all allocations will be reduced, regardless of whether the water is for farming or for the environment.

Rural Financial Counselling Service

The Rural Financial Counselling Service (1800 686 175) provides financial counselling services to farmers, including assistance with financial and business options, developing a financial action plan, accessing government assistance schemes, and referring to other service providers.

Australian Government assistance

The Australian Government provides a number of assistance measures to support farm families, farm businesses and rural communities to prepare for, manage through and recover from drought and other hardship.

The Australian Government has announced significant changes to the Farm Household Allowance program – with two lump sum supplementary payments worth up to $12,000 for eligible households, and changing the assets threshold to allow thousands more farmers to access support.

The Regional Investment Corporation is offering drought loans for farmers to help them prepare for, manage through or recover from drought.​

Assistance in Queensland

The Queensland Government is offering programs to help farm families, farm businesses and farm communities affected by drought.

Assistance in New South Wales

NSW DroughtHub provides a one-stop online destination for information on a vast range of services and support available to primary producers, their families and communities to prepare for and manage drought.

Assistance in Victoria

The Victorian Government supports farmers throughout Victoria to prepare and respond to drought through technical, financial and personal support.

More information