Economic Development

News & Resources

Regional Goal

Enhance our region's wealth by creating sustainable industries and increasing employment opportunities for our people equivalent to the wider Australian community.

Programme Goal

The TSRA will take the lead as a 'Whole of Region Economic Development Solution Broker'. In this role, the TSRA will work in partnership with other government and non-government organisations and individual communities to advance the regional goal and ensure the efficient use of resources.

Programme Objectives

The Economic Development Programme component will:

  • stimulate economic development across the region
  • advance business skills and align training initiatives with regional employment opportunities
  • advance Indigenous ownership and management of industries and enterprises.

Programme Deliverables

  • Increased number of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal individuals in non-Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) employment (now the Remote Jobs and Communities Programme, RJCP).
  • Increase in the participation of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in industry training.
  • Increased number of approved TSRA loans.
  • Increase in the annual total catch of finfish and kaiar (tropical rock lobster) by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people.

Programme Expenditure 2013 - 2014

Table 2-4 Economic Development Programme Expenditure 2013 - 2014 (unaudited)

Budget
$'000
Actual
$'000
Variance
$'000
13,06413,00361

Torres Strait Development Plan Outcomes

  • Improved wealth of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people of the region.
  • Sustainable industries owned and operated by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people (e.g. marine based, tourism, arts and craft, construction).
  • Improved access to capital and other opportunities to finance enterprises and industries.

Figure 2-3 Economic Development Programme Map

a chart showing Economic Development Programme Map

Economic Development Programme projects and achievements
Project Name: Employment and training initiatives

Project purpose

To implement the Remote Jobs and Communities Programme (RJCP) and to advance business skills and align training initiatives with regional employment opportunities.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

As the RJCP agreement manager for the Torres Strait Islands Region, the TSRA supported the service provider to develop a regional workforce development strategy and community action plan for consideration by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. These documents help to align activities and training conducted under the RJCP to priorities and employment opportunities in the region.

Thirty-six RJCP jobseekers were transitioned into permanent full-time employment positions. These positions were in building, construction and mining; business and administration; childcare; cleaning; communication; community service; education; farming, agriculture and horticulture; fitness and training; fishing and maritime industries; health; hospitality; management; and retail and customer service.

Fourteen RJCP jobseekers were transitioned into part-time employment. These positions were in arts; building, construction and mining; childcare; education; fitness and training; health; and retail and customer service.

Sixty-nine RJCP jobseekers commenced casual employment in arts; building, construction and mining; business and administration; childcare; cleaning; communication; community service; education; farming, agriculture and horticulture; fitness and training; fishing and maritime industries; health; hospitality; management; and retail and customer service.

Training was delivered to 67 RJCP participants across a diverse range of areas such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural arts; business administration; carpentry; community development; community services work; construction; fishing operations and wild harvest diving; hospitality; Indigenous community housing maintenance; Indigenous mental health; retail services; surface extraction operations; theology and ministry; transport and distribution maritime operation; work readiness; and workplace practices.

Through the Torres Strait Marine Pathways Project, a partnership between the TSRA, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland, maritime industry training was provided for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in the Torres Strait region. Seventy-seven participants achieved a nationally recognised Certificate II In Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal) and / or Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 Near Coastal) qualifications. A further 41 participants completed relevant components of these qualifications (obtaining a statement of attainment): 12 achieved Certificate III in Fishing Operations and eight achieved wild harvest dive programme qualifications. These qualifications provided employment pathways for work in marine-based industries within the region and across Australia.

a photograph of Business workshop on Poruma

Into Business workshop on Poruma.

Economic Development Programme projects and achievements
Project Name: Regional industry development and coordination initiatives

Project purpose

To stimulate economic development across the region.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

The TSRA, in partnership with Indigenous Business Australia, offered Into Business Workshops to economic development clients in the Torres Strait region.

At no cost to clients, the TSRA assisted community members and directors of Torres Strait Islander (TSI) Corporations, to undertake the Into Business Workshops. The workshops helped participants to research and develop their business ideas, and as a result helped them to assess if their idea was commercially viable. Community members and corporation directors were provided with the opportunity to complete each of the three workshop modules (Workshop A, B and C).

Participation:

  • Workshop A: 34 community members and five TSI Corporations (16 corporation directors)
  • Workshop B: 22 community members and four TSI Corporations (10 corporation directors)
  • Workshop C: 22 community members and three TSI Corporations (seven corporation directors).

All participants actively participated in the workshops and completed their own research between each workshop.

The TSRA supported seven Community Economic Initiatives through its grant funding programme. Details of the Community Economic Initiatives Scheme grants are provided in Appendix 3.

The TSRA helped the Torres Shire Council, Torres Strait Island Regional Council and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council to each employ an events coordinator to assist in promoting the region and coordinate community-based events in each local government area.

The TSRA has provided grant funding to the Torres Shire Council to enable them to refurbish the sports stadium and related infrastructure on Thursday Island. The activity, to be undertaken in partnership with the RJCP provider, will provide employment and training outcomes in additional to flow-on healthy lifestyle benefits. Project planning was undertaken in 2013 - 2014, with works to be completed in 2014 - 2015.

Delivery of Benefits: Torres strait Development Plan

Business Funding Scheme and Housing Loans

The Business Funding Scheme and Housing Loans project did not meet its targets in 2013 - 2014. Complex land tenure arrangements in the Torres Strait continue to make it difficult for loan applicants to provide appropriate security for loans.

Short-term benefit description
Increase in the number of approved TSRA loans.
Benefit targetProgressCOAG target
Five new business loans and three new home loans granted per annum from July 2009 to June 2013.Two business loans.
Two home loans.
COAG Target 1 –Close the life expectancy gap within a generation.
COAG Target 6 –Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.

Employment

From 1 July 2013, Job Services Australia, Disability Employment Services, the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) programme and the Indigenous Employment Programme in remote regions transitioned to the new RJCP. The TSRA has successfully negotiated to be the RJCP Agreement Manager for the Torres Strait Islands Region. The TSRA has established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to manage the RJCP Contract. The MOU, which was originally agreed between the TSRA and the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and former Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, took effect from 1 September 2013. The MOU is for a period of five years with an option for renewal for a further five years.

Short-term benefit description
Increase in the number of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal individuals in non-RJCP employment.
Benefit targetProgressCOAG target
50 people per annum moved from RJCP into non-RJCP jobs per annum from July 2009 to June 2013.
Note: this target was initially set for CDEP projects.
36 RJCP jobseekers were transitioned into permanent full-time employment positions. These people were transitioned into permanent employment positions in the following fields:COAG Target 1 –Close the life expectancy gap within a generation.
COAG Target 6 –Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.
▪ Building, construction and mining (11)
▪ Business and administration (8)
▪ Community service (2)
▪ Education (2)
▪ Farming, agriculture and horticulture (3)
▪ Health (3)
▪ Hospitality (2)
▪ Management (2)
▪ Retail and customer service (3).
14 RJCP jobseekers were transitioned into permanent part-time employment positions. These people were transitioned into permanent employment positions in the following fields:
▪ Arts (3)
▪ Building, construction and mining (2)
▪ Childcare (2)
▪ Cleaning (1)
▪ Community service (1)
▪ Education (1)
▪ Fitness and training (1)
▪ Retail and customer service (3).
69 RJCP jobseekers are engaged in casual employment. These people were engaged into casual employment positions in the following fields:
▪ Arts (1)
▪ Building, construction and mining (25)
▪ Business and administration (5)
▪ Childcare (2)
▪ Cleaning (6)
▪ Community service (2)
▪ Education (4)
▪ Farming, agriculture and horticulture (3)
▪ Fishing and maritime industries (1)
▪ Hospitality (3)
▪ Retail and customer service (17).

Marine Resource Utilisation

Progress against the Marine Resource Utilisation target cannot be quantified at present. The requirement to report catch is not mandatory for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal fishers in the region so data to measure tangible outcomes does not exist. Discussions are continuing within the Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) to identify and implement a more robust system of data collection; however, this is likely to be a medium-to long-term outcome and remains a challenge for the TSRA and the PZJA.

Short-term benefit description
Increase in the annual total catch of marine resources (Finfish and Tropical Rock Lobster) by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people.
Benefit targetProgressCOAG target
he TIB sector reported catch(as published in Fishery Status Reports 2012) is:
Kaiar (tropical rock lobster): A five per cent increase in catch against the nominal 'total allowable catch' for the Traditional Inhabitant Boat (TIB) sector per year until 2013.a2010: 191 tonnes2011: 201 tonnes2012: 188 tonnesCOAG Target 1 –Close the life expectancy gap within a generation.
COAG Target 6 –Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.
2010 - 2011:2011 - 20122012 - 2013
Coral Trout: 20 tons per annum.b(Effort) 14 operation days2.29 tonnes1.08 tonnes
Spanish Mackerel:3.5 tonnes per annum.a(Effort) 14 operation days1.86 tonnes1.64 tonnes
a The percentage increases are for the catch amounts for TIB fishers.
b Catch reporting is voluntary for the TIB sector. Data from processors is also used to provide the best estimate for TIB catch.

a photograph of View from ferry between Horn and Thursday islands

View from ferry between Horn and Thursday islands.

Case Study: Small Business Success

TI Main Events, a locally owned party hire company based on Thursday Island, is an example of how the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Economic Development Programme is helping enhance the region's wealth by creating sustainable industries and increasing employment opportunities.

Proprietor Michael Bon established the business in 2008 after an opportunity to purchase two used marquees from a friend enabled him to offer shelter for a range of events, including birthdays, weddings and tombstone openings.

Continual reinvestment during the early years of the business saw Michael purchase chairs and tables to supplement his marquees and to ensure he could service the growing events market on Thursday Island.

In 2011, he approached the TSRA to help fund the purchase of more equipment under the programme area's Business Funding Scheme, an initiative that aims to improve access to capital and other opportunities to finance enterprises and industries.

As part of the loan application process Michael engaged in a business mentoring programme in order to review his business plan and company structure and to project potential cash flow opportunities. The TSRA also sponsored Michael to undertake studies in a Certificate III in Micro Business which allowed him to better understand the issues behind running a small business.

As a demonstration of Michael's hard work and commitment to TI Main Events, he also maintained a separate cleaning job and worked around its set hours to fulfil his hire contracts and to complete his study.

a photograph of Michael Bon, owner TI Main Events

Michael Bon, owner TI Main Events.

The loan provided by the TSRA in 2012 has since enabled Michael to purchase new marquees and a vehicle to properly meet the needs of the burgeoning business.

The next stage in growth for Michael is to add catering equipment to his hire range, including bain-maries, glassware, cutlery and crockery.

Michael is currently studying a Certificate IV in Accounting and hopes to be able to leave his cleaning job and concentrate on building TI Main Events into a full-time venture in the near future.

He is planning to offer his services to the Torres Strait outer islands and the Northern Peninsula Area and eventually enter the Cairns market. He is teaching his younger workforce about the business and the importance of hard work.

Michael says after establishing the business and seeing first hand the benefits of working for himself, he'd like to encourage other Torres Strait Islanders to consider educating themselves to find their own business opportunities, rather than just looking for a job.