The 2012 - 2013 Financial Year has been a year of change for the TSRA which saw the end of the term of the fifth TSRA Board and the appointment of the sixth Board in September 2012. 2012 was the first time that TSRA Board Members were elected through a totally independent election process. In the lead up to the elections the TSRA worked with the Australian Electoral Commission's Indigenous Electoral Participation Program to inform prospective candidates and electors of the changes in the process. The TSRA adopted a caretaker period between June and September 2012 until the new TSRA Members were declared. A four-day induction program was conducted for the new Board to introduce them to their roles and responsibilities under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act (Cth) 2005 and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 2008 (Cth).
In this reporting period, there has been further expansion to the scope of activates being delivered by the Ranger Program. This has been enabled through a five year finding commitment funding secured from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
The TSRA is continuing to engage with a range of stakeholders from communities and all levels of government to progress an integrated service delivery model to produce the best outcomes and benefits for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in the region.
Some of highlights for the TSRA in this reporting period are summarised below.
2011 - 2012 TSRA Annual Report of Operations
The TSRA was proud to receive recognition for its 2011 - 2012 Annual Report from the Institute of Public Administration Australia though the receipt of the highly commended Annual Report Award for Agencies under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act. This acknowledgement follows awards in 2009 - 2010 and 2010 - 2011 for Printing and Graphic Excellence for the best Annual Report overall in two or three colours.
TSRA Performance Audit
The TSRA is working with the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to conduct a performance audit of the Authority. The ANAO is scheduled to provide its report to Parliament in December 2013.
Torres Strait Rangers
In my report last year, the TSRA had 33 Rangers working on country. The Ranger Program has since expanded to 38 island-based Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers, including trainees. There are 14 ranger offices established in 13 Torres Strait island communities. Funding to continue the Ranger program for a further five years has been secured. Rangers have delivered significant environmental projects within their communities.
In the lead up to the elections the TSRA worked with the Australian Electoral Commission's Indigenous Electoral Participation Program to inform prospective candidates and electors of the changes in the process.
Common Funding Rounds
This year, the TSRA has again run two funding rounds. There were 76 successful applications that contributed $16.891 million to community groups, enterprises and individuals in the region for a range of outcomes. Providing information about the TSRA's Common Funding Rounds has been a key part of the information sessions that the TSRA delivers to communities. This year the grants program has been extended to include Indigenous broadcasting and language initiatives.
Native Title Representative Body Review
The Hon. Jenny Macklin, MP, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs invited the TSRA to reapply for re-recognition as the Native Title Representative Body (NTRB) for the Torres Strait to 30 June 2015. The TSRA Board has agreed that the TSRA would reapply and also that during the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2015, the NTRB functions should transition to the Gur A Baradharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council Torres Strait Islander Corporation. The Department of Families Community Services and Indigenous Affairs contracted Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a national review of all Native Title Organisations. The TSRA will invite representatives from each of the Prescribed Bodies Corporate within the Torres Strait to participate in the review and to provide submissions to the review team.
Integrated Services Delivery
Over the last year, TSRA has developed the TSRA's integrated service delivery action plan for all levels of government.
In June 2013 the TSRA's Integrated Services Delivery team was nominated in the Outstanding Partnership and Collaboration category in the Australian Government Leadership Network, Queensland Awards. This nomination is for outstanding performance and achievement in developing productive partnerships and collaboration that has contributed to solving complex problems, providing substantial benefits and savings to communities and organisations.
In February 2013, the Secretary of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Finn Pratt, met the new TSRA Board Members at the first business meeting of the new Board. The Secretary congratulated the Members and provided information relating to other Indigenous programs being delivered nationally.
Over the past year, the TSRA met with a number of Ministers, Directors and Regional Managers from all levels of government.
The TSRA is proud of its many achievements over the past year and throughout this report of operations are a selection of case studies to share some of the stories of the work the TSRA is doing to meet the aspirations of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the region.
I look forward to the 2013 - 2014 financial year during which we will focus on the development of the Torres Strait Development Plan 2014 - 2018 which provides the mandate and guidance for delivering the outcomes and benefits from the TSRA's programs.
In closing, I express my sincere thanks for the previous TSRA Chairperson, Mr John (Toshie) Kris, and the Members of the TSRA Board for their support and strategic direction over the past four years. I look forward to working with the recently elected Chairperson, Mr Joseph Elu, AO and the new Board Members as the TSRA progresses the interests of the region.
I also extend my appreciation to agencies at all levels of government, community organisations, individuals and stakeholder groups for working with the TSRA in partnership to achieve the best possible outcomes for our communities.
Wayne See Kee
Chief Executive Officer