News & Resources

Information Management and Technology

Telstra Regional Communications Upgrade

The TSRA, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and Telstra have partnered as co-contributors to a two-stage project which, in the first stage, will provide the platform for 4G technology to a number of sites and deliver an increased network backhaul capacity for the region within the next 12 months.

This new infrastructure project seeks to deliver multiple socioeconomic, educational, health and community safety outcomes for the island communities and peoples of the Torres Strait region, via a significant upgrade and expansion of the existing telecommunications network. The project outcomes will deliver demonstrably improved mobile voice and data coverage for Indigenous communities and increased network bandwidth capacity for service providers in the Torres Strait region. Other benefits of the improved network infrastructure will include enhanced biosecurity, agriculture, and marine safety and border protection measures.

The project outcomes will deliver demonstrably improved mobile voice and data coverage for Indigenous communities and increased network bandwidth capacity for service providers in the Torres Strait region.

Information and Communications Technology Projects

An ICT strategy was completed in the reporting period. The strategy supports a forward-looking strategic approach to ICT investment and utilisation for the TSRA which is closely aligned with the current Australian Public Service (APS) whole-of-government ICT strategy.

From 2016 to 2019, the TSRA will undertake a series of projects to improve ICT service delivery and demonstrate value in each of the three priority areas outlined in the overarching APS strategy. The three areas of priority are: deliver better services; improve the efficiency of government services; and engage openly.

The TSRA has been in negotiation with the vendors of TSRA’s existing finance, human resources, information, content and records management systems to look at the best options for these functions, including possibly moving some services into the cloud, to ensure ongoing ease of access for TSRA staff.

Environmental Sustainability

Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) requires Australian Government organisations to detail their environmental performance and contribution to ecologically sustainable development. Table 4-9 provides an overview of the TSRA’s environmental activities and operations in relation to Section 516A of the EPBC Act.

Table 4-9 Compliance with the EPBC Act, section 516A

Reporting requirement

TSRA response

How the TSRA’s activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development

The TSRA has reviewed and published an environmental policy outlining measures to improve its ecological sustainability.

During 2016-2017, the TSRA worked on implementing activities identified through its environmental management system, focused on ensuring that the TSRA is taking all reasonable steps to reduce its ecological footprint.

The TSRA’s environmental risks are managed at the project, programme and portfolio levels and are captured in the organisation’s risks and issues registers.

The TSRA maintains an environmental legal and other requirements register.

The TSRA has established a biennial audit process for its environmental management system.

Outcomes contributing to ecologically sustainable development

The TSRA’s Environmental Management Programme contributes to ecologically sustainable development across all Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area communities. This includes:

  • employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as trainees, rangers and ranger supervisors
  • partnering with Tagai State College in the horticulture in schools programme
  • improving animal management and invasive species control, including management strategies for invasive fish, cane toads, and feral dogs impacting on green turtle nesting sites, and developing a regional pest management strategy
  • producing biodiversity profiles, fauna surveys and fire management plans for all inhabited Torres Strait islands
  • providing technical assistance to improve food production in the Torres Strait through a sustainable horticulture programme
  • working with communities for sustainable management of turtles and dugongs
  • working with Ergon Energy and other partners to increase the use of renewable energy technologies
  • developing and implementing actions to build sustainability and resilience across the region through planning for climate change impacts
  • monitoring environmental change across the region.

Environmental impacts of operations

The TSRA is committed to managing its operations and those of its contractors to minimise adverse environmental impacts and protect the environment. There were no recorded adverse environmental impacts from TSRA activities in 2016-2017.

Measures taken to minimise environmental impacts

Actions during 2016-2017 included:

  • continuing the operation of three solar photovoltaic systems on TSRA office sites, resulting in a projected saving of 140,000 kilowatt hours (or $52,600) per year
  • continuing to require employees, contractors and suppliers to comply with the TSRA’s environment policy and environmental management systems by
    • implementing conservation measures in the TSRA’s offices
    • minimising the environmental impacts through better design and material selection for new staff housing
    • requiring contractors to comply with relevant environmental regulatory requirements and minimum environmental performance requirements
    • managing and reporting environmental incidents
  • monitoring a range of environmental performance indicators, including energy use within TSRA offices, energy ratings of white goods purchased for TSRA staff housing, fuel consumption and vehicle performance
  • adopting appropriate technologies to reduce travel and reduce the TSRA’s dependency on paper-based filing systems, including
    • telephone and videoconferencing facilities
    • iPads, to be used at all formal meetings, reducing paper consumption
    • an electronic document and records management system.

Risk Management

The TSRA has standardised its processes for the identification, documentation and management of risks and issues. All TSRA projects and managed activities include risk assessments as part of the project planning and approval process. The TSRA’s management of risk is a continuous cycle (as shown in Figure 4-2) involving a systematic process for maintaining risk within an acceptable level.

FIGURE 4-2 TORRES STRAIT REGIONAL AUTHORITY RISK MANAGEMENT PROCESS

FIGURE 4-2 TORRES STRAIT REGIONAL AUTHORITY RISK MANAGEMENT PROCESS

Risk Identification

Risk identification involves identifying the issues that are likely to negatively impact the achievement of the goals of the TSRA. This includes:

  • political and strategic risks
  • programme delivery risks
  • operational support risks.

Risks are identified via:

  • an annual risk management workshop attended by the TSRA’s Management Group (top-down approach)
  • completion of individual risk assessments at the programme/project level (bottom-up approach)
  • audits and assessments conducted through internal and external audit functions.

Risk assessment includes the process of determining the likelihood of a risk occurring and the consequence or impact of the risk.

Risk Appetite

The TSRA is a custodian of the Australian Government’s investment in the future prosperity of the Torres Strait region. Therefore, the TSRA seeks to balance its risk position between:

  • investment in activities that may drive substantial growth in the region
  • the need to remain a stable organisation with the capacity to continue to work for the community into the future.

The TSRA’s risk appetite is necessarily around the middle of the risk-taking spectrum. Depending on the results from year to year and community needs, the TSRA may choose to increase or decrease its appetite for higher risk activities.

The TSRA:

  • accepts a higher risk appetite when approving a new system or process that offers greater processing capacity and efficiencies
  • accepts a moderate risk appetite for programme outcomes that are aimed at contributing to the regional goals
  • accepts a low risk appetite for significant breaches of security or unauthorised access to confidential records
  • accepts a very low risk appetite for risks that would result in physical or mental harm to staff and the environment.

Risk Mitigation

Risk mitigation (or risk reduction) involves developing actions or plans to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. All mitigation steps are assigned an owner and timeframe.

Risk Monitoring

All TSRA employees are expected to identify and manage risks within their span of control.

The members of the TSRA’s Management Group are responsible for:

  • incorporating suitable risk management activities into business planning (via completion of a risk assessment at the programme or project level)
  • ensuring that the risk management processes are implemented
  • ensuring that risk mitigation actions are followed.

The TSRA’s risk management system is:

  • dynamic – by being responsive to change and assisting corporate learning and continuous improvement
  • systematic – by being rigorous, transparent and explicit and taking into account stakeholder perspectives
  • integrated and embedded – in so far as practicable, by reviewing established management planning, decision-making and reporting processes.

The risk management system is based on the better practice principles and processes outlined in the International Standard AS/NZ ISO 31000 Risk Management – principles and guidelines.

Accountability

External Scrutiny

During 2016-2017, the TSRA, as a corporate Commonwealth entity, was accountable to the Parliament of Australia and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

The Auditor-General is the TSRA’s external auditor. The audit of the TSRA’s financial statements is conducted in accordance with an audit strategy agreed to by the Auditor-General and the TSRA. The 2016-2017 audit was conducted in August 2017. A copy of the independent auditor’s report, including the auditor’s opinion, is provided as part of the financial statements in Section 5 of this Annual Report.

Judicial Decisions and Reviews

There were no judicial decisions or reviews in 2016–2017.

Fraud Control

The TSRA has implemented a fraud control framework in accordance with section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth). No incidents of fraud were detected in 2016-2017.

Internal Audit

The TSRA Audit Committee is assisted in the internal audit function by an external contractor, HLB Mann Judd. HLB Mann Judd is responsible for implementing the TSRA’s internal audit programme, which aims to provide assurance that key risks are being managed effectively and efficiently, including that the TSRA complies with regulatory requirements and policies.

Indemnities and Insurance Premiums for Officers

The TSRA indemnifies current and former directors and staff members against liability or costs incurred in connection with any claim brought against them as a result of, or in connection with, their appointment to any office or position in the TSRA. The TSRA holds directors’ and officers’ liability insurance cover through Comcover, the Australian Government’s self-managed fund. The TSRA has an annual insurance renewal process, and reviewed its insurance coverage in 2016-2017 to ensure that it remained appropriate for its operations.

No indemnity-related claims were made during the year, and the TSRA is not aware of any circumstances likely to lead to such claims being made.

The cost of directors’ and officers’ indemnity insurance for 2016-2017 was $7,694.76.

Directors’ Interests Policy

In accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014, the TSRA Board has a policy and process to manage all direct and indirect conflicts of interest, including a register of all directors’ pecuniary interests and a requirement that directors make a formal declaration of their interests at each TSRA board meeting. The declarations are recorded in the minutes of the meeting. The pecuniary interest process applies to all governance committees of the TSRA.

Human Resources

The TSRA’s employees are located at TSRA facilities on Thursday Island, and throughout the island communities of the Torres Strait, Queensland. A small TSRA office in Cairns is used to increase the TSRA’s capacity to attract people with skills and experience not available in the Torres Strait.

The TSRA has a workforce strategy that complements the Torres Strait Development Plan 2014-2018 and sets the strategic direction for supporting and developing the TSRA’s workforce.

Workplace Agreement

TSRA staff operate under the TSRA Enterprise Agreement 2017. The terms and conditions of employment are set out in this agreement. The TSRA Enterprise Agreement 2017 came into effect from 6 June 2017.

The salary ranges for staff covered under the current enterprise agreement range from $43,604.02 for an APS level 1 staff member to $138,117.80 for an Executive Level 2 staff member.

Payroll and Leave Records

The human resources and payroll company Frontier Software Pty Ltd provides payroll software to the TSRA to facilitate in-house payroll and leave arrangements.

Learning and Development

The TSRA’s employees attended internal and external learning and development courses throughout 2016-2017. This included programme and project management training, career development training, cultural awareness training, fraud awareness training, accredited relevant university studies and various other courses.

As part of their induction, all new TSRA employees complete the Australian Public Service Commission’s online induction programme. In addition, all TSRA employees who are required to travel as part of their role complete helicopter underwater escape training.

The TSRA Performance Development Programme informs the learning and development required by staff and supports them in achieving the best outcomes possible for them as TSRA employees and as people.

Work Health and Safety

The TSRA fulfilled its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) in 2016-2017.

The TSRA has a work health and safety management system. There were five notifications made to Comcare under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) during the year arising from undertakings by the TSRA.

There were no investigations conducted during the year relating to undertakings carried out by the TSRA and there were no notices given to the TSRA during the year under the Comcare legislation.

The TSRA’s Work Health and Safety Committee comprises TSRA staff and managers who are responsible for developing and implementing strategies to protect employees from risks to their health and safety. The Work Health and Safety Committee works cooperatively to manage all the TSRA’s work health and safety policy and operational matters. Employees are informed of current issues and receive occupational health and safety publications from Comcare and other sources when available. The TSRA has trained employees who undertake duties as first-aid officers, fire wardens and work health and safety representatives.

The TSRA has an active early intervention and injury management strategy in place and continues to use occupational therapy services to provide ergonomic support, advice and case management services. The TSRA provides staff who travel frequently in helicopters as part of their duties with helicopter underwater evacuation training, and provides flu vaccinations as well as a healthy lifestyle reimbursement of up to $200 per year for employees.

The TSRA has in place a Preventing Bullying and Harassment Policy and two trained harassment contact officers are available to provide employee support. The TSRA engages lngeus Australia Pty Ltd trading as Assure Programs (ACN 152 509 37) to provide Employee Assistance Programme services to employees where required.

Workplace Diversity

The TSRA is committed to supporting a culture of equity, inclusion and diversity, and to ensuring that the TSRA workforce is representative of the broader community. The TSRA upholds the Australian Public Service Values and strives to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises the diversity of the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities that it serves.

All TSRA staff receive up-to-date information on developments in human resources, including developments in equal employment opportunities, harassment-free workplaces and workplace diversity. Employees can also access publications from the Australian Public Service Commission and other related agencies.

Workplace Consultative Arrangements

The TSRA fosters and promotes workplace consultation through regular management, programme area and staff meetings. In addition, the TSRA conducts regular meetings with staff representatives on the Workplace Consultative Committee. As appropriate, management consults with employees on major workplace changes, the development of guidelines and policies applying to employment conditions, and the development and implementation of an enterprise agreement.

Privacy

The Australian Information Commissioner did not issue a report on the TSRA under section 30 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and no personal privacy complaints were made against the TSRA during the reporting period.

Staffing Profile

Tables 4-10 and 4-11 provide information on the TSRA’s employee numbers and classifications as at 30 June 2017.

Table 4-10 Staff Profile at 30 June 2017 by Classification

Classification

Number of staff

Senior Executive Service or equivalent

2

Executive Level 2

6

Executive Level 1

21

Australian Public Service (APS) 6

25

APS 5

35

APS 4

6

APS 3

25

APS 2

20

APS 1

19

Total

159

Table 4-11 Staff Profile at 30 June 2017 by Equal Employment Opportunity Group

Classification

Male

Female

Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal

People with disability

Senior Executive Service or equivalent

2

0

2

0

Executive Level 2

3

3

1

0

Executive Level 1

9

12

4

0

Australian Public Service (APS) 6

12

13

13

1

APS 5

10

25

30

0

APS 4

2

4

6

0

APS 3

14

11

25

0

APS 2

11

9

20

0

APS 1

17

2

19

0

Total

80

79

120

1

Other Reportable Matters

Freedom of Information

Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme. This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a Section 8 statement in an annual report. A plan showing what information the TSRA publishes in accordance with the requirements is available on the TSRA’s website (www.tsra.gov.au/information-publication-scheme2).

Property Management

The TSRA has a property portfolio which includes office accommodation at three sites on Thursday Island; the Gab Titui Cultural Centre; and residential staff accommodation, consisting of 57 houses and apartments. The TSRA also owns and maintains the historic Green Hill Fort, which is listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

In addition, the TSRA has a fleet of vehicles and vessels – most of which are located on outer island communities in the Torres Strait as part of the TSRA Ranger Programme.

Schedules for regular maintenance of property and assets are in place and these works are contracted out to appropriate tradespeople. Ongoing repairs and maintenance are carried out in a way that meets the TSRA’s obligations to environmental sustainability, meets government procurement guidelines and supports Indigenous and local businesses.

The TSRA offices have been through significant and ongoing upgrades to IT systems, equipment, air-conditioning and other soft infrastructure to ensure compliance and scalability to meet current and future demands.

TSRA-owned properties are maintained in line with a five-year maintenance plan, which aims to reduce the cost of reactive property maintenance through planned, targeted property maintenance practices, ensuring that the properties are safe, sustainable, well maintained and fit for purpose.

A major project approved by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, for an 18-dwelling residential development on Clark Street, Thursday Island, was completed in the 2016-2017 year. The construction of this housing has reduced the TSRA’s reliance on rental accommodation and will provide longer term financial benefits for the TSRA.

In 2018-2019 the TSRA will undertake further capital works projects, with funding from a grant of $2.989 million from the Australian Government Public Service Modernisation Fund.

One project, involving construction of a commercial building on Thursday Island, will be completed with a minimum Indigenous participation rate of 90 per cent, meaning that 90 per cent of all work hours will be carried out by Indigenous tradespeople and labourers. The new facility will provide increased environmental sustainability and an improved working environment for TSRA staff. The project will be a showcase of sustainable design in remote areas, incorporating solar technology, sustainable water use and other environmental design technologies.

Community infrastructure projects on the outer islands of the Torres Strait in 2017-2018 will include the construction of a multipurpose facility on Erub Island. The Erubam Le Traditional Land and Sea Owners (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation and the TSRA have entered into an Indigenous Land Use Agreement for the use of land for the construction of the facility, which will provide a suitable base for TSRA land and sea rangers and their vessels and vehicles and other TSRA assets.

The TSRA is also looking to provide opportunities for other government agencies and non-government organisations to lease office spaces within these facilities.

Disclosure of Sacred Matters

In accordance with Section 144ZB(4) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (Cth), the TSRA Annual Report 2016-2017 does not disclose any matters known to the TSRA to be held sacred by Torres Strait Islanders or Aboriginal people.