The TSRA has continued to deliver programmes and implement policies and projects to achieve the targeted outcomes identified in the Torres Strait Development Plan 2014-2018.
As part of the TSRAs commitment to engage with our communities, the TSRA Chairperson and I completed visits to seven communities as part of our engagement programme. Those engagement visits will continue in 2017-2018, as we aim to visit all communities in the region. Community engagement visits by TSRA programme areas at the operational level will continue in the coming financial year. These visits are conducted by TSRA project staff to work with their clients and review the status of TSRA projects and initiatives.
New Grant Management System Implemented
In the reporting period, the TSRA completed its transition to a new grant management system. All TSRA grants are now being administered through the new system, called Smarty Grants. The new system has features that will enable the TSRA to streamline and improve its grant management processes. A key component of the new system is the ability for applicants to submit electronic grant applications directly into the system, as well as financial and performance reports to meet grant reporting requirements. This feature will be further developed in 2017-2018 along with some process refinements and will go live once the TSRA is satisfied that grant applicants and clients in the Torres Strait region have the capacity and technology (i.e. reliable internet connections) to be able to submit online.
Significant Events Funding Stream
The TSRA introduced a new stream into its common funding round that specifically targets significant milestone events in the region. This year was a significant year for the Torres Strait, with the 25th anniversary of the historic Mabo decision and 25th anniversary of the raising of the Torres Strait flag. On a national level, Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum. A number of events were held throughout the region to celebrate those important milestones, and the significant events funding stream was introduced to create a specific avenue for funding support for them. The significant events funding stream will now form part of the TSRAs future common funding rounds.
During the reporting period, the TSRA completed the first phase of its Regional Economic Investment Strategy (REIS), which specifically targeted the fisheries industry. The second phase of the REIS is aimed at arts and creative industries and was launched at the end of the reporting period for implementation in 2017-2018. This new approach to economic development in the region has created more opportunities for local business owners to tap into initiatives and support that were previously not available. The initiative caters for different levels of business maturity and can assist people who are starting a business for the first time or people already in business who would like to grow their enterprise. More information on the REIS can found in Section 2 of this report.
Work Health and Safety
In the reporting period the TSRA continued to maintain and meet its obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth). The TSRA has in place an active Work Health and Safety Committee with representation from all of TSRAs designated work groups. In 2016-2017, there were five notifications made to Comcare under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth). More details on work health and safety can be found in Section 4 of this report.
Local Government Memorandum of Understanding
During the reporting period, the TSRA formally executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Torres Shire Council and a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Torres Strait Island Regional Council. The MOU and MOA formalise the partnership between the TSRA and the two local governments and ensure that we work together in a spirit of cooperation when implementing policies, programmes and initiatives in the two local government areas.
At a Glance
The TSRA workforce has increased from 152 to 159 since the previous reporting period. Of this number, 120 are Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people. The TSRA has one of the highest percentages of Indigenous employment (75 per cent) of any government entity. This is an achievement we are proud of. The TSRA also maintains a good gender balance, with 80 males and 79 females in its workforce.
The TSRA continues to provide internal opportunities for the training and development of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal staff to increase their capacity and skills so they can apply for higher level positions not only in the TSRA but across the Australian Public Service. The TSRA also provides external opportunities and support for local community members through our leadership capacity building initiatives and Assistance with Tertiary Education Scheme, which targets university students from the region. More information on these initiatives can be found in Section 2 of this report.
THE TSRA HAS ONE OFTHE HIGHEST PERCENTAGES OF INDIGENOUS EMPLOYMENT (75 PER CENT) OF ANY GOVERNMENT ENTITY.
The TSRA has secured a budget appropriation that will enable it to maintain the existing programmes and service levels in the region in the coming financial year. The TSRA has also secured external non-appropriation funding for specific initiatives such as further purchases of tropical rock lobster licences held by the transferrable vessel holder sector of the fishery. Details on the TSRAs financial performance over the reporting period are contained in Section 5 of this report.
Torres Strait Development Plan
The new TSRA Board will be working closely with the administration to develop the new Torres Strait Development Plan for 2019-2022 in the coming 2017-2018 financial year. The new development plan will replace the existing Torres Strait Development Plan 2014-2018 when it expires in 2018. A series of workshops were held in the reporting period to develop the Board's priorities for inclusion in the new development plan. Programme mandates for TSRA programmes were also developed as part of the process, and these will feed into the new Torres Strait Development Plan for 2019-2022.
I am proud of the achievements and progress we have made throughout the reporting period and look forward to working with the new Board in continuing to build on our achievements in the coming year. The main sections of the report provide further details of our activities and achievements, including case studies from each of the TSRA programme areas.
In closing, I express my appreciation and thanks to the incoming TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, and the new TSRA Board, who guide the TSRAs policies and strategic direction. My appreciation is also extended to the TSRA staff and our partner agencies across all levels of government who have worked with the TSRA to contribute to achieving the best outcomes for Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area communities.
I also acknowledge the Elders, Traditional Owners, Registered Native Title Prescribed Bodies Corporate, local government councillors and communities of the region for the support and hospitality extended to the TSRA when we visit your communities.
Wayne See Kee
Chief Executive Officer