Australia's Murray Darling Basin is the primary agricultural region of Australia. It produces one third of Australia's food supply and supports over a third of Australia's total gross value of agricultural production. Three quarters of Australia's irrigated crops and pastures are grown in the Basin. However, the recent drought has hit communities in the Murray Darling Basin. This paper reports on work being done by a number of researchers, supported by the Cotton CRC, to identify the extent of wellbeing, vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity in the Murray Darling Basin. The work is using a number of innovative techniques, but is focusing on the social impacts of water reform.

In this paper we propose a framework in which individual and community wellbeing have an impact on the sensitivity of an area to an external shock, and the ability of an area to adapt after the external shock. This then affects how vulnerable the community is to an external shock.

After developing a framework, this paper then concentrates on how best to measure individual and community wellbeing for regional and rural Australia. In this paper, a number of indicators are proposed to measure dimensions of wellbeing; and then a number of dimensions are used to measure a domain. The domains we have included are the capitals: so human capital, social capital, built (produced) and financial Capital, natural capital and spiritual capital. All these come together to form an individual's wellbeing.

Owing to the fact that different people will place different weights on each of these domains, dimensions and indicators, this paper has not attempted to derive some single indicator of wellbeing. Instead the paper provides a number of different indicators, allowing the reader to decide themselves what weight each would receive. Further, the paper does not try to quantify the indicators, but provides the framework for the indicators.

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