Healthy Communities

News & Resources

Regional Goal

  • To enhance both healthy communities and our living environment.
  • To achieve the provision of adequate, appropriate and affordable housing.

Programme Goal

To contribute to the regional goal. The TSRA seeks to influence policy for all health programmes across all tiers of government, monitor health services and initiatives across the Torres Strait region and provide strategic policy advice.

The Programme also provides direct support for initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles, and supports home ownership and other specific housing initiatives that are linked to healthy lifestyles and economic development in the region.

Programme Objectives

Monitor and provide strategic policy advice regarding health service delivery in the region to ensure health service levels are equal to the national standard:

  • Seek to influence policy for all health programmes across all tiers of government.
  • Monitor health services and initiatives across the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area and provide strategic policy advice. This will be undertaken under the broad platform of Integrated Service Delivery and the Torres Strait Health Partnership, with reports being delivered at appropriate forums under the service level agreement intended for the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area.

Improve the health of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the region through proactive healthy living initiatives:

  • Direct support targeting healthy lifestyles including such areas as improving the availability of fresh produce and healthy food options and encouraging people to undertake healthy activities.

Increase Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal home ownership:

  • Provide direct support for home ownership and specific housing initiatives which are linked to economic development. This support could be for enterprises that assist people to develop trade skills or community initiatives to deliver environmental management services relating to water or renewable energies. The TSRA will also assist Traditional Owners to negotiate land releases for housing developments where appropriate.

Programme Deliverables

Healthy homes initiatives:

  • funding contributions towards community market garden and horticulture initiatives in conjunction with the Environmental Management Programme
  • engaging with food suppliers and retailers to explore improved healthy food options.

Healthy lifestyles initiatives:

  • monitoring and provision of strategic policy direction for health
  • funding contributions towards health education initiatives in areas such as physical education, nutrition, obesity, diabetes programmes, motivation, substance abuse and sport and recreation
  • funding contributions towards sport and recreation minor infrastructure.

Improved housing and home ownership initiatives:

  • funding contributions towards essential services and infrastructure to support healthy living environments
  • land tenure resolution through Indigenous Land Use Agreements and other formal agreements in conjunction with the Native Title and Environmental Management Programmes.

Programme Expenditure 2013 - 2014

Table 2-12 Healthy Communities Programme Expenditure 2013 - 2014 (unaudited)

Budget
$'000
Actual
$'000
Variance
$'000
12,86112,80952

Torres strait Development Plan Outcomes

  • Improved access to affordable fresh and healthy foods.
  • Health care systems are effective to meet and support the primary health care needs of community members.
  • More active and healthy communities.
  • Affordable home ownership available across the region.
  • Sufficient land to build houses.

a photograph of Healthy Communities, Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, Bamaga Farm

Healthy Communities, Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, Bamaga Farm.

Figure 2-7 Healthy Communities Programme Map

a chart showing Healthy Communities Programme Map

Healthy Communities Programme projects and achievements
Project Name: Health / Healthy homes initiatives / Community market gardens

Project purpose

To provide funding contributions towards the establishment of community and market gardens and support training initiatives in horticulture for community members.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

The TSRA has exceeded the target to establish eight community sustainable horticulture systems by 2013, as outlined in the Torres Strait Development Plan (2009 - 2013).

The regional land care facilitator is supporting four community market garden pilot projects, at St Pauls, Masig, Hammond and Horn Islands, as part of the TSRA's Environmental Management Programme sustainable horticulture project. The Regional Landcare Facilitator supports horticultural activities in nine other communities.

Two of the new community gardens have been established on Saibai—a traditional horticulture garden, which is over two hectares in size, and a smaller garden demonstrating non-traditional vegetable production.

The Regional Landcare Facilitator is also supporting the community of Dauan to prepare gardens which are similar to the Saibai model.

Project Name: Health / Healthy homes initiatives / Improved access to healthy foods

Project purpose

To engage with relevant retailers and food suppliers to explore options for improved access to affordable healthy food.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

The TSRA has provided financial support to the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council towards operating costs for the Bamaga Farm. This activity is currently transitioning into a Remote Jobs and Communities Programme (RJCP) activity. The farm has produced harvests of corn, melons, pumpkins, cassava and bananas which have been sold in the Bamaga and Seisia stores. Other crops are being trialled with a view to expanding operations through RJCP participation.

Project Name: Horn Island Affordable Housing Project

Project purpose

This joint TSRA and Torres Shire Council project seeks to:

  • provide safe, healthy, adequate, appropriate and affordable housing at Horn Island to local Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families residing in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area region
  • provide an opportunity for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal employment and training in the development of land and housing construction.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

The detailed master planning and housing design, housing eligibility and governance policy framework were completed in 2013 - 2014.

The Torres Shire Council employed a dedicated Horn Island Affordable Housing Project (HIAHP) officer.

The project is now at a stage where clearing of land and construction of serviced lots can begin; however, additional native title issues have emerged, which have delayed the construction phase.

The TSRA Native Title Office is working with the Queensland Government to resolve these issues.

 

Healthy Communities Programme projects and achievements
Project Name: Health / Healthy homes initiatives / Monitoring and strategic policy direction for health

Project purpose

To monitor the delivery of health initiatives in the Torres Strait and provide strategic policy advice to ensure that advances are being made in primary and preventative health care.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

The TSRA hosted the cross-border Health Issues Committee (HIC) meeting on Thursday Island in April 2014. This meeting was attended by health representatives from Australia and Papua New Guinea and was the first HIC meeting to be co-chaired by the Australian and Papua New Guinea health departments.

The HIC identified and is addressing health issues arising in the Torres Strait Protected Zone and South Fly coast of Papua New Guinea. This year members worked collaboratively to focus on ways to improve cross-border communications infrastructure to support reliable cross-border health communication. Some key outcomes from the meeting were:

  • agreement to the need to replace high-frequency radios in Papua New Guinea treaty villages;
  • agreement to the need for further investment in tuberculosis management in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea.
Project Name: Health / Healthy lifestyles initiatives

Project purpose

To provide funding contributions towards health education initiatives, including:

  • physical education
  • nutrition
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • substance abuse.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

The TSRA provides grant funding for a range of healthy communities initiatives, including the Lift for Life Programme, the Torres Shire sports complex gym expansion and a healthy communities training workshop.

Funding provided to the Torres Shire Council has facilitated an upgrade of the Torres Shire sports complex gymnasium. This project will be completed in 2014.

The Torres Strait Island Regional Council has been funded to coordinate a healthy communities workshop which will support 25 participants aged between 16 and 25 years to attain a Certificate II in Indigenous Youth Leadership. This programme is to be delivered by the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre. The workshop is targeted at young people to increase awareness on nutrition, physical education and healthy leadership.

Project Name: Health / Healthy lifestyles initiatives / Sport and recreation programmes

Project purpose

To provide funding contributions to sporting groups and community organisations to support activities that contribute to the Healthy Communities Programme objectives.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

In 2013 - 2014 the TSRA sport and recreation grants were managed through the Torres Strait Youth and Recreation Sporting Association (TSYRSA). The TSRA provides funding to the TSYRSA to provide sport and recreation grants in the region.

The TSYRSA supported 11 major local sporting events and administered 54 grants that encouraged participation in a range of sporting and recreational activities.

Thirty Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal individuals were assisted to participate in various sporting events at state and national championships.

 

Healthy Communities Programme projects and achievements
Project Name: Major Infrastructure Programme

Project purpose

To improve the health and general wellbeing of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the region, through the deliver y of essential environmental health infrastructure including clean water supplies, reticulated sewerage systems, and serviced subdivisions. This project is achieved through a partnership between the TSRA and the Queensland Department of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience (DLGCRR). The Major Infrastructure Programme (MIP) is administered by the TSRA. The three regional local government councils, Torres Shire Council (TSC), Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC), are the beneficiaries of environmental health infrastructure works constructed under the MIP.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

Stage 4 of the MIP delivered the following projects in 2013 - 2014:

  • Poruma reticulated sewerage treatment plant.
  • TSIRC asset sustainability group B (water supply and desalination upgrades at Mer, Masig, Poruma, Iama, Boigu and Warraber).
  • Bamaga subdivision (minor works completed).
  • NPARC asset renewal (minor repairs completed).
  • Tidal gauges at Boigu, Kubin, Iama and Ugar (now at practical completion).

Planning and consultation for MIP Stage 5 has commenced.

  • As part of the planning process for the rollout of MIP Stage 5, the TSRA led a regional infrastructure needs planning and prioritisation process. Undertaken in conjunction with the DLGCRR, TSC, TSIRC and NPARC, this process resulted in a comprehensive list of regional environmental health infrastructure priorities which will guide the delivery of MIP works until 2016.
  • Thirteen infrastructure projects will be completed under MIP Stage 5.
Project Name: Torres Strait Sea Walls Project 2014 - 2017

Project purpose

The Torres Strait Sea Walls Project 2014 - 2017 has been co-funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments to provide sustainable coastal protection systems that reduce the likelihood of inundation and damage to community infrastructure in the six priority Torres Strait communities of Iama, Saibai, Boigu, Poruma, Masig and Warraber.

Frequent tidal inundation poses a range of threats to communities in the Torres Strait, including damage to critical infrastructure, increased health and disease risks, impacts on important cultural and heritage sites such as cemeteries, and damage to community gardens.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

Significant work has been undertaken in assessing coastal risks and preferred mitigation options.

A project governance committee comprising representatives from the DLGCRR, TSIRC, TSRA, Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has been established to provide oversight over the project.

The MIP5 / Seawalls Memorandum of Understanding 2014 - 2017 has been signed between the TSRA and DLGCRR. The Sea Walls Project Implementation Plan 2013 - 2017 has been endorsed by each of the funding agencies. Project designs are being finalised for works on Saibai, Boigu and Poruma, with work to commence in the second half of 2014.

 

Healthy Communities Programme projects and achievements
Project Name: Torres Strait Island Regional Council Engineering Services: Water Services Operations and Maintenance Programme

Project purpose

To achieve improved health, economic and social outcomes for communities through the provision of funding assistance to the TSIRC for the operation and maintenance of water supply and sewerage services; and to strengthen community and local government capacity to operate and maintain water supply and sewerage services.

Achievements for 2013 - 2014

The TSRA provided funding to the TSIRC for the maintenance of essential water services to outer island communities throughout 2013 - 2014. The water standards achieved meet legislated requirements and an approved drinking water quality management plan is in place. Reports on drinking water quality are provided to both the regulator and the TSRA. The TSRA also provided funding to support the establishment of a local water testing facility on Thursday Island.

Delivery of Benefits: Torres Strait Development Plan

Health services and infrastructure

Five projects were completed through the MIP. One of these projects, the Asset Sustainability Group B project, provided major water supply and desalination upgrades at six outer island communities.

Five projects were completed under the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme, providing seven communities with essential marine and transport infrastructure. These projects were possible due to ongoing whole-of-government partnerships and joint funding arrangements.

Short-term benefit description
Communities have essential health services and infrastructure to support healthy living environments, including water, safe and environmentally friendly waste disposal, and renewable energy
Benefit targetProgressCOAG target
90 per cent of health winfrastructure projects completed per annum as per the Major Infrastructure Project (MIP) Implementation Plan.100 per cent of MIP Stage 4B projects have been completed. Planning and consultation for MIP Stage 5 has commenced which will see 13 infrastructure projects completed by 2016.
From a baseline of 311 identified shortfalls in health services and health infrastructure documented in 2010, 174 have been addressed, and 87 are funded or in progress. The remaining 50 have not yet resolved or have been identified as either unachievable or not a responsibility of government.
COAG Target 1 –Close the life expectancy gap within a generation.
COAG Target 2 –Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade.

Healthy activities

The TSRA supported the Torres Shire Council, Torres Strait Island Regional Council and Torres Strait Youth and Recreation Sporting Association (TSYRSA) to encourage individuals to participate in healthy sport and recreational activities. The TSYRSA supported major local sporting events and administered grants to support individual participation in sporting and recreational activities. Targeted early intervention grants were supported by the TSRA to encourage youth and individuals at risk, to make sustainable long-term changes to their health. These included the Lift for Life Programme and the Healthy Communities Workshop.

Short-term benefit description
Increased participation of people in healthy activities.
Benefit targetProgressCOAG target
A five per cent per annum increase in the number of people participating in healthy activities.This target is achieved through grant funded activities:
  • 11 major local sporting events were supported.
  • 54 sport and recreation grants encouraged participation in a range of sporting and recreational activities.
  • 30 Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal individuals were assisted to participate in various sporting events at state and national championships.
  • The Lift for Life Programme received 170 referrals, 30 male and 140 female. The programme is open to all residents and there is over 80 per cent Indigenous participation. Participants receive training 2 - 3 times a week, completing cardio and weight loss programmes as well as nutrition intervention and dietary planning.
COAG Target 1 –Close the life expectancy gap within a generation.
COAG Target 2 –Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade.

Future development

The TSRA and the Torres Shire Council continued their partnership to progress the delivery of the Horn Island HIAHP. The detailed planning phase of the project was completed in 2013 - 2014 and construction of the subdivision civil works will commence in 2014 - 2015. A focus of the detailed planning phase was to ensure the project provided local training, employment and economic development outcomes for Torres Strait Islander communities.

Short-term benefit description
Certainty for future development.
Benefit targetProgressCOAG target
Land made available for housing development through Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs)The TSRA's Native Title Programme is finalising a Social Housing ILUA with the Queensland Government.
The Horn Island Affordable Housing Project subdivision is ready to start construction of 30 serviced lots; however, the project has been delayed pending the resolution of a native title issue.
Native title issues in most Torres Strait island communities remain a barrier to home ownership.
COAG Target 1 –Close the life expectancy gap within a generation.

Case Study: Successful Completion of the Major Infrastructure Programme Round 4

Project description

The Major Infrastructure Programme Round 4 (MIP 4) was the most recent stage of the successful regional capital works programme that has delivered essential infrastructure to the islands of the Torres Strait and the Northern Peninsula Area region. MIP 4 (including the extended MIP 4B) comprised projects totalling $130 million and is the largest stage of the programme to date. The major benefits that the communities within the Torres Strait region received included:

  • improved water supply and treatment augmentation
  • new reticulated sewerage treatment systems
  • improvements to existing sewerage treatment systems
  • new fully serviced subdivision housing lots
  • improved stormwater drainage and surface drainage infrastructure
  • upgraded internal roads
  • planning documentation (mapping, community infrastructure plans etc).

Aim

The aim of MIP 4 was to improve the quality of life for Torres Strait communities, by implementing capital works that address environmental health infrastructure needs within the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area. This programme contributed to the Australian

a photograph of Major Infrastructure Programme, Poruma Sewerage Treatment Plant

Major Infrastructure Programme, Poruma Sewerage Treatment Plant.

Government Closing the Gap initiative in Indigenous communities. The programme had to deliver infrastructure to communities in a timely and cost-effective manner, targeting as many priority infrastructure projects as possible within the defined programme budget. The programme also maximised employment and training opportunities for local people and provided community development opportunities.

Achievements

MIP 4 successfully delivered 27 health infrastructure projects ranging from the provision of new desalination plants on six island communities and a council-built housing subdivision at Bamaga to a fully reticulated sewerage system for Poruma. In addition to the original MIP 4 projects, a further six projects were able to be delivered due to the substantial cost savings made in some projects under the programme. In 2013 the Australian National Audit Office noted that the MIP is a major example of joint service delivery. By 2013, $212 million had been committed to the MIP.

Along with the many health benefits the infrastructure has provided communities, MIP 4 also provided Indigenous employment and training, with many trainees taking on permanent positions within their local councils. A total of 236 Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people participated in the programme, providing over 130,000 hours of training and employment.

a photograph of MIP 4 Project: Wasaaga Road and drainage on Horn Island

MIP 4 Project: Wasaaga Road and drainage on Horn Island.

a photograph of Booby Island lighthouse

Booby Island lighthouse.