The 2013 - 2014 financial year has been a year of consolidation for the TSRA which saw the sixth Board, which was elected in September 2012, taking firm control of the formulation of regional policies and stamping their authority on the direction of the TSRA's programme outcomes for the next four years through the Torres Strait Development Plan (2014 - 2018).
The TSRA is continuing to engage with a range of stakeholders from communities and all levels of government to implement the integration of service delivery as the default model for the delivery of services 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.
2012 - 2013 TSRA Annual Report of Operations
The TSRA was proud to receive recognition for the online version of our 2012 - 2013 Annual Report from the Institute of Public Administration Australia through the receipt of a Bronze Award for agencies under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act. This is an improvement from 2011 - 2012, when the TSRA received a 'highly commended' award.
TSRA Performance Audit
The TSRA is pleased with the results of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) performance audit, which in summary found that, overall, the TSRA has effective management arrangements in place for delivering and monitoring its own programmes, and the TSRA's service delivery approach aligned to identified needs and the Australian Government's broader policies to address Indigenous disadvantage. The ANAO tabled its report to Parliament in December 2013. It made two recommendations.
The first relates to the establishment of formal information-sharing arrangements between agencies to assist the coordination and monitoring of services. This is to be implemented in 2014 - 2015 through regular regional inter-agency meetings. These will be conducted in partnership with the Queensland Government Department of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Multicultural Affairs, which is co-located with the TSRA in Torres Haus on Thursday Island.
The second recommendation, to implement a formal complaints process and client satisfaction survey, is being implemented and the TSRA website (www.tsra.gov.au) has been updated to simplify the process of making a complaint. The client survey is under development and will be implemented in 2014 - 2015.
Torres Strait Rangers
The TSRA Ranger Programme comprises a significant element of the TSRA workforce with 45 rangers and 14 support staff, including ranger trainees. The programme employs Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in roles from trainees to senior supervisors to deliver natural and cultural resource activities across 14 communities on 13 outer islands. The Ranger Programme has good support from communities in the region. In 2013 - 2014 the TSRA secured a $42 million commitment to continue the Ranger Programme for a further five years. Over the last year, the TSRA had a strong focus on accredited training for rangers to enable them to perform better for their communities and also to gain qualifications that could enable them to be employed in a wide range of roles both within the Torres Strait and beyond. Ranger vessels have been deployed to the Badu, Boigu, Saibai, Mabuiag and Iama communities. A further two vessels will be delivered in late 2014, one each to Erub and Mer. Rangers have worked together with accredited organisations to gain experience with turtle and dugong management, tide gauge maintenance, and coral and seagrass monitoring, in addition to their many land and sea management roles within their own communities. Over the next reporting period the TSRA will continue to strengthen our relationship with Torres Strait communities, and we will work with government agencies to further empower the people in our region to manage their natural and cultural resources.
Common Funding Rounds
This year, the TSRA has again run two grant funding rounds. There were 63 successful applications that contributed $9.48 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 TSRA has worked closely with local government organisations to identify projects that can be co-funded, thus extending the impact of TSRA grant funding across a wider range of activities in more communities. Joint funding of projects is one of the activities undertaken under the banner of Integrated Service Delivery.
Native Title Representation
The TSRA is working with Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) in the region to develop a more appropriate funding model for those PBCs that have demonstrated capacity to manage Indigenous Land Use Agreements and Future Acts on behalf of their communities. Over the next 12 months the TSRA will develop Memoranda of Agreement with selected PBCs to trial a new funding model.
The TSRA Board has determined that the TSRA will not re-apply for recognition as the Native Title Representative Body (NTRB) for the region when its current term expires on 30 June 2015. The TSRA is working with the Gur A Baradharaw Kod Sea and Land Council to build their capacity to perform the NTRB role from 1 July 2015.
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth)
The TSRA is ready to move from the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (Cth) to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) on 1 July 2014. The TSRA Board Members are aware of the changes to their responsibilities and accountability under the PGPA Act and formal training will be conducted for members during the TSRA's strategic planning workshop in November 2014. The draft rules under the PGPA have been circulated to Board Members for information and comment. The TSRA Board Charter has been updated to reflect the changes and this document will be re-published in 2014 - 2015.
Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions
The TSRA has fully complied with the Australian Public Service Commissioner's directions regarding recruitment and re-engagement.
The TSRA is proud of its many achievements over the past year. A selection of case studies have been included in the programme reporting section of the report of operations 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 2014 - 2015 financial year during which we will commence the implementation of the new Torres Strait Development Plan (2014 - 2018) and further develop the plan to align with the Australian Government's Indigenous Advancement Strategy programmes.
I express my thanks to TSRA Chairperson, Mr Joseph Elu, and the Members of the TSRA Board for their ongoing support and their efforts in setting the strategic direction for the next four years of the TSRA's operations. I also extend my appreciation to the many Australian, Queensland and local government agencies that contribute to the partnership arrangements in the region.
I also wish to extend my personal thanks to the TSRA's staff and those communities, Traditional Owners and Councillors that have welcomed the TSRA to their communities and extended their warm hospitality. We look forward to working with you in 2014 - 2015.
Wayne See Kee
Chief Executive Officer