Degradation of farmland caused by salinisation is a major environmental issue in Australia. To combat salinisation a community-based approach has been adopted. This paper reviews the nature and effectiveness of this approach, describing its rationale, strengths and weaknesses. The community-based approach is shown to have been highly successful in raising awareness and providing education about the problem of dryland salinity in Australia, and has encouraged group participation in managing the problem. The approach has allowed some internalisation of the externalities associated with dryland salinity, with peer group and community pressure helping to address some salinity problems. However, the approach has not greatly lessened the threat of salinisation. Community and regional groups continue to receive the bulk of salinity management funding yet it is funding for development of new innovations, technologies and policies that is also critical to combating salinity. A conclusion is that there may have been an over-investment in the community-based approach and under-investment in the development of skills and research infrastructure required to develop innovative solutions to lessen the cost of salinity.