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The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is required to formulate and implement a plan to guide the progress of the Torres Strait region towards 2018. This plan is to be known as the Torres Strait Development Plan and is required under Section 142D of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005, which states:
- The TSRA must formulate, and revise from time to time, a plan to be known as the Torres Strait Development Plan (the Plan)
- The aim of the Plan is to improve the economic, social and cultural status of Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait area.
- The Plan must outline the strategies and policies that the TSRA intends to adopt in order to implement the Plan, including, but not limited to, a marine strategy for the Torres Strait area.
- Each Plan must relate to a period of at least 3 years and not more than 5 years.
- The TSRA must review the Plan regularly.
- The TSRA must perform its functions under this section in consultation with the Minister
- Without limiting the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the TSRA Chief Executive Officer must ensure that copies of the Plan as in force from time to time are available for inspection and purchase at each office of the TSRA
- The TSRA Chief Executive Officer must cause notice of the publication of the Plan to be published in the Gazette.
The Torres Strait Development Plan (Development Plan) covers a period of four years, consistent with the term of TSRA Board Members. It is part of the Integrated Planning Framework for the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area region, depicted at Appendix 1.
The Development Plan focuses on service delivery to the Torres Strait Islands and the Northern Peninsula Area. The outcomes, benefits and targets in the Development Plan are delivered through the TSRA’s annual corporate plans, and achievements are reported in the TSRA’s annual reports to parliament.
This section explains the relationship between the Torres Strait Development Plan (2014 – 2018) and other regional and national planning documents.
Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Plan 2009 – 2029
The Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Plan 2009 – 2029 (Regional Plan) was developed by the TSRA, the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC), the Torres Shire Council (TSC) and the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC), with support from the Queensland Government’s former Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services following a comprehensive community engagement process. The Regional Plan provides 11 regional goals to guide the strategic policy development by all government service providers in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area. The regional goals are:
- Economic Development – Enhance our region’s wealth, by creating sustainable industries and increasing employment opportunities for our people equivalent to the wider Australian community.
- Housing – To achieve the provision of adequate, appropriate and affordable housing.
- Governance and Leadership – Effective and transparent self-government, with strong leadership.
- Environmental Management – Our natural and cultural environment is an asset that is protected, preserved and enjoyed through sustainable management.
- Public Health – Enhance both healthy communities and our living environment.
- Communities – Safe, healthy, respectful and progressive communities, based on Ailan Kastom and Aboriginal traditions.
- Art, Culture and Heritage – Protect, promote, revitalise and maintain Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal traditions and cultural heritage.
- Native Title – Protect, maintain and progress Native Title Rights and recognition over the region’s land and sea country.
- Schooling – Increase regional education to a national standard that is flexible and culturally appropriate, leading to a successful transition from school to jobs and a positive career path.
- Social Services – Strong families and safe and healthy communities that are guided by cultural and traditional Lore.
- Early Childhood – To nurture early learning development and socialisation opportunities that incorporate Indigenous traditional and cultural practices to build strong and resilient communities.
The TSRA has developed eight programs, which have been informed and driven by the Regional Plan and the goals and aspirations of the residents of the region. This Development Plan should therefore be read in conjunction with the Regional Plan. Copies of the Regional Plan are available from the TSRA, TSIRC, TSC, NPARC and the Queensland Department of Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs (DATSIMA) on Thursday Island and can be downloaded from the TSRA website www.tsra.gov.au.
The Regional Plan is supported by the Integrated Service Delivery Action Plan, involving government at all levels working in the region to achieve the coordinated, integrated delivery of services.
COAG Building Blocks for Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage
In December 2007, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a partnership between all levels of government to work with Indigenous communities to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. COAG agreed to the following targets:
- close the gap in life expectancy within a generation;
- halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade;
- ensure all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities have access to early childhood education within five years;
- halve the gap for Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade;
- halve the gap for Indigenous people aged 20–24 in year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates by 2020; and
- halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade.
COAG recognises that overcoming Indigenous disadvantage will require a long-term, generational commitment that will require major effort across the seven strategic platforms or Building Blocks, which support the reforms aimed at closing the gap against the above six specific targets. The Building Blocks endorsed by COAG are:
- Early Childhood
- Economic Participation
- Healthy Homes
- Safe Communities
- Governance and Leadership.
In order to frame the task of Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage, COAG has established the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA), which sets out objectives, outcomes, outputs, indicators and benchmarks.
National Partnership Agreements
A number of COAG’s National Partnership agreements include elements aimed at Closing the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage. The National Partnership agreements include Indigenous-specific agreements for:
- Remote Indigenous Service Delivery
- Indigenous Economic Participation
- Indigenous Early Childhood Development
- Indigenous Health
- Remote Indigenous Housing
- Remote Indigenous Public Internet Access.
The COAG Indigenous-specific outcomes are summarised in Schedule C of the National Indigenous Reform agreement.
In addition to being aligned with the outcomes of the Regional Plan, the TSRA’s eight programs align with the COAG Building Blocks. The programs contribute to the delivery of the Indigenous-specific outcomes outlined in the NIRA.
Appendix 2 shows how the COAG Building Blocks and the TSRA’s regional goals and programs align.
Appendix 3 shows how the TSRA program benefits align with the COAG Closing the Gap targets and the Indigenous-specific outcomes of the COAG National Partnership agreements.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The TSRA is committed to the observance of Resolution 61/295, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The TSRA recognises the Declaration as a standard to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect.
The TSRA has mapped the outcomes from its eight programs to the articles in the Declaration. The TSRA makes a direct contribution to 36 of the 46 articles. Appendix 4 shows how the program outcomes have been mapped to the articles.