Why we exist


Water is essential

Our waterways and catchments are essential to our communities, First Peoples, industries and ecosystems. Yet Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth and has some of its most highly variable rainfall and runoff. Climate change is disrupting historical patterns and exacerbating droughts and floods.

This creates an immense challenge in deciding who gets water, where and when. To make good decisions that are fair and legitimate, we need to improve how we make decisions.


Policy challenges

We don't always share aspirations or a vision for managing our waters and catchments, and the ways to achieve them. In fact, water policy is often plagued by deep divisions, contested evidence and mistrust. Policymakers often don't know how to get over these hurdles, leading to deadlocks and poor water outcomes for many.

Water policy reforms since the 1990s have made water management more efficient — wasting less and doing more with what we've got — but there is still much more progress to be made in making water management fairer and more inclusive.

To get past our deadlocks and the status quo we need new approaches to water policy and management decision-making. We need approaches that:

  • build trust between conflicted parties
  • include everyone who has a stake in the decision
  • are seen as fair and legitimate by everyone.


Role of Watertrust

This is where Watertrust Australia comes in. We are are a trusted, independent and impartial broker of better water and catchment policy decision-making.

We are funded by a coalition of philanthropies working together to provide financial support for an initial 10-year period and are incubated at the Australian Academy of Science.

In 2017, two of Australia’s leading philanthropic organisations – The Myer Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation – funded a major study to better understand how Australia could improve the sustainable management of its inland waters and catchments. The study identified the need for an independent organisation to be an honest broker between stakeholders, working with them to overcome the many policy challenges and improve water policy decision-making.

Watertrust Australia commenced operations on 1 July 2021.

We believe it is critical to rebuild trust and find common ground on water and catchment policy