Formation

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is a statutory authority established in 1994 under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989 (the ATSIC Act), and is the peak Commonwealth representative body for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait, including the Northern Peninsula Area.

In March 2005 the ATSIC Act was repealed and replaced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (ATSI Act).

The TSRA consists of an elected arm and an administrative arm. The elected arm comprises 20 elected representatives who are Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait region. All TSRA Members are elected under Division 5 of the ATSI Act.

A Chief Executive Officer is responsible for TSRA administration and staffing.

Functions

The TSRA has the following functions, as outlined in Section 142A of the ATSI Act:

  1. to recognise and maintain the special and unique Ailan Kastom of Torres Strait Islanders living in the Torres Strait area;
  2. to formulate and implement programs for Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait area;
  3. to monitor the effectiveness of programs for Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait area, including programs conducted by other bodies;
  4. to develop policy proposals to meet national, State and regional needs and priorities of Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait area;
  5. to assist, advise and cooperate with Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities, organisations and individuals at national, State, Territory and regional levels;
  6. to advise the Minister on:
    1. matters relating to Torres Strait Islander affairs, and Aboriginal affairs, in the Torres Strait area, including the administration of legislation;
    2. the co-ordination of activities of other Commonwealth bodies that affect Torres Strait Islanders, or Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait area;
  7. when requested by the Minister, to provide information or advice to the Minister on any matter specified by the Minister;
  8. to take such reasonable action as it considers necessary to protect Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal cultural material and information relating to the Torres Strait area if the material or information is considered sacred or otherwise significant by Torres Strait Islanders or Aboriginal persons;
  9. at the request of, or with the agreement of, the Australian Bureau of Statistics but not otherwise, to collect and publish statistical information relating to Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait area;
  10. such other functions as are conferred on the TSRA by this Act or any other Act;
  11. such other functions as are expressly conferred on the TSRA by a law of a State or of an internal Territory and in respect of which there is in force written approval by the Minister under section 142B;
  12. to undertake such research as is necessary to enable the TSRA to perform any of its other functions; and
  13. to do anything else that is incidental or conducive to the performance of any of the preceding functions.

The TSRA also performs separate functions under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), as the Native Title Representative Body for the Torres Strait Region. In 2013, the [then] Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs invited the TSRA to extend their role as the Native Title Representative Body for the Torres Strait Region until 30 June 2015.

Planned Outcome

The TSRA’s planned outcome, as published in the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Budget Statements is:

Progress towards closing the gap for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait Region through development planning, coordination, sustainable resource management, and preservation and promotion of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal culture.

Programs

The TSRA will deliver eight programs that contribute to the regional goals expressed in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Plan to achieve the targets, for which the TSRA has a regional policy or service delivery role, outlined in the National Indigenous Reform Agenda. Those programs are:

1. Economic Development See Section 3 and Annexes A-1, A-2, A-3
2. Fisheries See Section 4 and Annexes B-1, B-2, B-3
3. Culture, Art and Heritage See Section 5 and Annexes C-1, C-2, C-3
4. Native Title See Section 6 and Annexes D-1, D-2, D-3
5. Environmental Management See Section 7 and Annexes E-1, E-2, E-3
6. Governance and Leadership See Section 8 and Annexes F-1, F-2, F-3
7. Healthy Communities See Section 9 and Annexes G-1, G-2, G-3
8. Safe Communities See Section 10 and Annexes H-1, H-2, H-3

Sections 3 to 10 in the Development Plan describe each program, providing the following information.

Overview and Aims – provides a general overview of the program and its aims.

Regional Goal – sets out the relevant goal from the Regional Plan.

Regional Issues – sets out the issues that the TSRA Board has identified as focal points for the programs outcomes and includes baseline data where relevant to a particular issue.

Program Outcomes – describes the outcomes that have resulted from the activities and projects in the program plan, reflecting the TSRA’s goal of achieving positive change (each program outcome is numbered to map it to the articles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (see Appendix 4)).

Benefits – sets out the measurable and meaningful improvements that will result from the program’s outcomes. The benefits are described as those achievable during the life of the current Development Plan (2014 – 2018); and those intended to be achieved in subsequent Development Plans.

Over the life of the Development Plan changes to benefit statements may be made as current benefits are realised or new benefits are identified.

Performance Measures (Indicators) – are the indicators which are used to measure achievement of the program’s outcomes and benefits.

Projects and Initiatives – sets out the program’s ongoing activities and specific projects that produce outputs. All projects and initiatives must contribute to the program’s outcomes and benefits and meet the criteria of effective use of resources and value for money.

Contribution to the Closing the Gap Targets – describes how the program’s outcomes contribute to the COAG Closing the Gap targets.

Contribution to the COAG National Partnership Agreement Indigenous-specific Outcomes – describes how the program’s outcomes contribute to the Indigenous-specific outcomes in the COAG National Partnership agreements.

Program Map (annexes A-1 to A-8) – maps the relationships between the program’s initiatives, outputs, outcomes, benefits, and strategic direction.

Program Overview (annexes B-1 to B-8) – summarises information on the program and its outcomes, benefits, performance measures and initiatives in a table for the benefit of communities and other stakeholders.

Program Benefits (annexes C-1 to C-8) – summarises the program’s benefits and sets out the targets and recipients for each performance measure.