Water Allocation & Entitlement Skills Project

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Case for change

The Management of Australia’s water catchments and systems is of importance to all Australian’s. They are a vital resource that farmers use to produce food and fibre, but home to ecosystems that need to be preserved and managed for the long-term.

For Australian farmers and irrigators, water trading is a complex market to navigate, with fluctuating prices; changing allocations and entitlements; and different allocation, entitlement and trading rules in each state and territory.

Water literacy in education, including VET, is one recommendation of the Keelty Report into management of Murray-Darling Basin water resources.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) reports that farming communities’ fragmented understanding of changing water markets is serving to undermine their efficiency and regulatory compliance.

This project will capture the skills needed for the acquisition, management and trading of water within the agricultural, pastoral and production horticultural sectors.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the 2021 Annual Update to the IRC Skills Forecast (see pages 69-74).

The Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project as part of their responsibility to support engagement with the sector, and to ensure the project meets industry stakeholder needs.

Skills Impact will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see pages 69-74)

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Project Plan

Access to water resources is vital to Australian farmers and the food security of the nation. This needs to be managed alongside policy settings that provide for the management of water catchments and systems, which sustain the flora and fauna that are an essential part of healthy ecosystems.

From its informal beginnings around 20 years ago, water trading in Australia has evolved into a multifaceted market, offering entitlements and allocations that can be bought and sold. For farmers and irrigators, access to water trading can increase productivity, allow choice and flexibility in business decision-making and reduce risk.

Farmers and irrigators operating in these markets need the skills and knowledge to navigate fluctuating prices, manage the buying and selling processes, calculate the carryover of water, and manage risk strategies around climate and long-term water allocation. There are also different allocation, entitlement and trading rules in each state and territory, subject to the  local Indigenous and local Government authorities. Unique skills are required to effectively work within the complexities of each market.

These skills are especially important for small and family farms, which, unlike larger enterprises, are often unable to directly employ water market experts. They must develop a sufficient understanding to be able to articulate their needs when negotiating brokerage services. It is important that small family farms, young farmers and the next generation are empowered with the right knowledge, skills and support to effectively navigate water markets.

“Water literacy has changed, such as the need for irrigators to now understand and have knowledge of how a water market operates. A farmer needs to not only farm, but simultaneously be an economist, trader and weatherperson.” Inquiry into Management of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources by Mick Keelty, 2020

National skills standards will be developed alongside industry experts, to support farmers, irrigators and water traders develop the skills necessary to operate in Australia’s various water markets.

Project Scope

This project will develop up to five units of competency that can be packaged within existing qualifications or delivered as part of a skill set suitable for both new and existing workers whose job role involves acquiring, managing and trading water within the agricultural, pastoral and production horticultural sectors.

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Relevant Occupations
  • Farmer and farm manager
  • Cropping farmer
  • Cropping farm worker
  • Mixed crop and livestock farm worker
  • Grain, cotton, or pasture farm worker
  • Dairy production managers
  • Production horticulturist (permanent and seasonal crops)
  • Viticulturist
  • Water traders
Relevant Sectors
  • Cotton
  • Rice (including wild rice in Northern Australia)
  • Forage crops (brassica, maize, sorghum)
  • Pasture
  • Cereal (wheat)
  • Livestock (dairy)

July-August 2021
Initial scoping

September-December 2021
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

November 2021
Drafts available for broad consultation

February 2022
Validation of final drafts

March-April 2022
Finalisation of Training Package components

May 2022
Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

June 2022
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

Project Team
William HendersonIndustry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impactwilliam@skillsimpact.com.au
Andrew HorganIndustry Engagement Manager, Skills Impactandrew@skillsimpact.com.au
Tom VassalloIndustry Skill Standards Development Manager and Strategic Training Package Review Specialisttvassallo@skillsimpact.com.au


Opportunities for stakeholder input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in January 2022, and again for validation of final drafts in April 2022. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the units.

It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The units need to reflect real work experience. So, if you work with water allocation and entitlements, Skills Impact appreciates your input and assistance.

Please register your interest in project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link. Alternatively, contact the project manager, William Henderson on william@skillsimpact.com.au or 03 9321 3526.

Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Webinars will be held to replace the face-to-face consultation workshops Skills Impact would usually host around Australia.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project based on their industry role, size or specialty. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations to seek their involvement and views on all draft skill sets and units. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list, they have simply been identified as the most, likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.


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Drafts Available

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