By Terri Butler MP and Anthony Albanese MP

An Albanese Labor Government will work with community groups to fix up our local waterways - restoring precious habitat and creating valuable recreational spaces for local communities.

The Urban Rivers and Catchments Program will provide grants for community groups, local and state government to fund projects which deliver improvements to water quality and the local environment, create improved open spaces for kids and families to enjoy and create local jobs.

Many of our rivers in urban and peri-urban areas have been treated more like stormwater drains over the years, but there are local community groups right across the country who are working to turn that around.

Our parks and reserves provide a place for people to get together for picnics and children’s birthday parties, they’re where we teach our kids to ride their bikes and walk the dog – and recently they became even more precious during times of lockdown.

Fixing up our waterways and the catchment areas around them will give people access to a better quality of living.

Importantly, nearly half of all nationally listed threatened animals and one quarter of our threatened plants are in urban areas. Taking steps to repair and restore our waterways and catchments helps protect these species and create great recreational areas for local communities.

Labor’s plan for Urban Rivers and Catchments will help protect species like the Regent Honeyeater, the Curlew Sandpiper, the Koala, several frog species and the loggerhead turtle.

There are hundreds of community groups across the country taking action to clean up their local waterways for everyone to enjoy.

Labor’s $200 million program will help fund that work to make an even bigger impact, including by:

  • Creating wetlands to slow water flow and filter stormwater before it reaches our rivers
  • Citizen science and education projects for pre-schoolers and school age children
  • Removing cement walls and returning them to natural riverbanks
  • Revegetation and tree planting

It is expected the fund would provide grants for as many as 100 projects, depending on project size, with smaller community group projects likely to be less than $1m and larger projects involving state and local governments eligible for up to $10m.