Enabling Functions

a photograph of Poruma temporary erosion protection

Poruma temporary erosion protection.

Information Management and Technology

In 2014 - 2015, improvements were made to various business-critical information and communications technology (ICT) services across the organisation. As part of the scheduled infrastructure maintenance plan, hardware was purchased to replace the server and storage infrastructure in both data centres located on Thursday Island. Basic implementation has been completed and extensive testing is currently underway prior to migrating production data and services across to the new hardware.

A planned replacement of multifunction printers was initiated, with 24 printers replaced across all TSRA offices. These machines had reached the end of their planned service life. This work was a precursor to a major upgrade in print management infrastructure software, scheduled for 2015 - 2016, to improve reporting and accounting of print consumables across the organisation.

Purchasing was completed for a comprehensive ranger VHF radio solution. This included negotiation of special licensing exemptions with the Australian Communications and Media Authority to allow ranger vessels to act as mobile coordination centres for combined land / sea ranger operations. Testing of the fully installed solution and training is scheduled to be completed in 2015 - 2016.

Hardware was purchased to replace one third of the TSRA’s desktop computers in 2015 - 2016, as the first tranche of a planned replacement of aging desktop hardware. The development of a Windows 8 Standard Operating Environment is complete and is in final testing prior to the rollout of the new hardware.

Work is progressing on the Telstra mobile network expansion project, with the TSRA committing funds to purchase critical hardware for the solution. This initiative will improve telephone and data communications across the region and will benefit all agencies in all levels of government as well as community members. Funding to complete this project is being sought. A number of departments and agencies have expressed interest in assuring the success of the project.

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 (ESD). Table 4-10 provides an overview of the TSRA’s environmental activities and operations in relation to section 516A of the EPBC Act.

Table 4-10: Compliance with the EPBC Act, Section 516A (Environmental Reporting)

ESD 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 2014 - 2015, 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:
  • employment of 45 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 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 the development of 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 turtle and dugong
  • working with Ergon Energy and other partners to increase the use of renewable energy technologies
  • building 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 2014 - 2015.
Measures taken to minimise environmental impacts During 2014 - 2015, the TSRA continued to apply a number of measures, including:
  • the on-going operation of three solar photovoltaic systems on TSRA office sites, resulting in a projected annual energy saving of 140,000 kilowatt hours per annum or 96.5 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide
  • the trial of office kitchen waste composting.
The TSRA requires its 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 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.
The TSRA monitors 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.
The TSRA has adopted appropriate technologies to reduce travel and its dependency on paper-based filing systems. Those technologies include:
  • telephone and video conferencing facilities
  • iPads, to be used at all formal meetings, reducing paper consumption
  • an electronic document and records management system.
The TSRA continues to modernise its computing operations through the adoption of new virtual technologies and desktop solutions. The new technology provides the TSRA with the opportunity to further reduce energy consumption and the impact of computers on the environment.

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 (Figure 4-2) involving a systematic process to maintaining risk within an acceptable level.

Figure 4-2: TSRA Risk Management Process

Figure 4-2: TSRA Risk Management Process

Risk Identification

Risk identification involves identifying the issues that are likely to negatively impact on the achievement of the TSRA’s goals, as set out in Section 2. This includes identifying:

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

Risks are identified by:

  • 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 by internal and external audit functions.

Risk assessment includes the process of determining the:

  • likelihood of a risk occurring
  • consequence or impact of the risk occurring.

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:

  • investing 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.

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


  • 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.

a photograph of TSRA Deputy Chair with Gab Titui Indigenous Arts Award winner Ms Nancy Kiwat

TSRA Deputy Chair with Gab Titui Indigenous Arts Award winner Ms Nancy Kiwat.

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 that are within their control.

The members of the TSRA’s management group are responsible for:

  • incorporating suitable risk management activities into business planning (by completing risk assessments at the programme / project levels)
  • ensuring that 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 AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines.


External Scrutiny

The TSRA is a Corporate Commonwealth entity and a portfolio body of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The TSRA is 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 2014 - 2015 audit was conducted in August 2015. 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.

Fraud Control

The TSRA has implemented a fraud control framework in accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework 2014. No incidences of fraud were detected in 2014 - 2015.

Internal Audit

The TSRA Audit Committee is assisted in the internal audit function by an external contractor, PDM Consultancy. PDM Consultancy is responsible for implementing the TSRA’s internal audit programme, which aims to provide assurance that the TSRA is managing key risks effectively and efficiently, and that it is complying with regulatory requirements and policies.

Compliance Report

In accordance with section 19 of the PGPA Act, the TSRA provided the Finance Minister and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs with a letter from the TSRA directors. The letter advised that the TSRA had:

  • complied with the provisions and requirements of the PGPA Act
  • complied with the PGPA Rules as amended from time to time.

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. As part of its annual insurance renewal process, the TSRA reviewed its insurance coverage in 2014 - 2015 to ensure it remained appropriate for its operations.

In 2014 - 2015, no indemnity-related claims were made, and the TSRA knows of no circumstances likely to lead to such claims being made.

The cost of directors’ and officers’ indemnity insurance for 2014 - 2015 was $10,051.55.

Directors’ Interests Policy

In accordance with the PGPA Act and the PGPA 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, available to all communities through their elected TSRA Board members. The pecuniary interest processes 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. A small TSRA office in Cairns continues to be used to increase TSRA’s capacity to attract people with skills and experience not available in the Torres Strait.

The TSRA’s Workforce Strategy complements the Torres Strait Development Plan 2014 - 2018 and sets the strategic direction for supporting and developing our workforce.

Workplace Agreement

All TSRA staff continue to operate under the TSRA Enterprise Agreement 2011 - 2014. The terms and conditions of employment are set out in this agreement which, while designed to end on 30 June 2014, will remain in effect until replaced by a future agreement. As at 30 June 2015, the next TSRA Enterprise Agreement was still being negotiated. The salary ranges for staff covered under the Enterprise Agreement range from $42,334 for an APS level 1 staff member to $130,164 for an EL2 staff member These rates were effective from 16 October 2013.

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.

Learning and Development

The TSRA’s employees attended internal and external learning and development courses throughout 2014 - 2015. This included programme and project management training, career development training, cultural awareness training, fraud awareness training, accredited relevant university studies and various other learning and development courses. In addition, mentoring and coaching was also provided to various staff.

As part of their induction, all new TSRA employees complete the Australian Public Service Commission’s on-line induction programme.

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

Work, Health and Safety Management Arrangements

The TSRA fulfilled its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) in 2014 - 2015.

The TSRA has a Work Health Safety Management System. There were six notifications made to Comcare during the year arising from undertakings by the TSRA requiring giving notice under the Work Health and Safety Act.

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. Comcare has reviewed the workings of the Work Health Safety Management System during a site visit in 2014 - 2015.

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 occupational 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 occupational health and safety representatives.

Workplace Health

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. On-site flu vaccinations and a healthy lifestyle reimbursement of up to $200 per year are also available to employees.

The TSRA has 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 to provide Employee Assistance Programme services to all employees where required.

Workplace Diversity

The TSRA is committed to supporting a culture of equity, inclusion and diversity, and to ensuring that its 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 that recognises the diversity of the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities that it serves. All TSRA staff receive up-to-date information on key developments in human resources, including developments in equal employment opportunity (EEO), harassment free workplaces and workplace diversity. Employees can also access publications from the Australian Public Service Commission and other related agencies.

A range of statistical information is collected during the recruitment of TSRA staff and is available to the Australian Public Service Commission on request.

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
  • the development and implementation of an Enterprise Agreement.


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. The TSRA’s privacy policy has been reviewed to comply with the privacy law reform.

Staffing Profile

Tables 4-11 and 4-12 provide information on the TSRA’s employee numbers and classifications as at 30 June 2015.

Table 4-11: Staff Profile at 30 June 2015, by APS Level

Classification Number of staff
Principal Executive Officer 1
Executive Level 2 6
Executive Level 1 20
APS 6 25
APS 5 27
APS 4 5
APS 3 27
APS 2 13
APS 1 20
Trainee 3
Total 147

Table 4-12: TSRA Staff Profile at 30 June 2015, by EEO Group

Classification Male Female Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal People with a disability
Principal Executive Officer 1 0 1 0
Executive Level 2 5 1 0 0
Executive Level 1 11 9 4 1
APS 6 13 12 12 1
APS 5 8 19 21 0
APS 4 1 4 5 0
APS 3 14 13 26 0
APS 2 3 10 12 0
APS 1 17 3 20 0
Trainee 3 0 3 0
Total 76 71 104 1

Other Reportable Matters

Changes to Disability Reporting in Annual Reports

Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007 - 2008, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. From 2010 - 2011, departments and agencies are no longer required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been replaced by the National Disability Strategy 2010 - 2020 which sets out a ten year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The National Disability Strategy Reports are published on the Department of Social Security web site: at www.dss.gov.au.

The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the Australian Government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is Faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency annual reports.

Exemption from Commonwealth Authorities (Annual Reporting) Orders

The Finance Minister has not granted any written exemption to the TSRA from any requirement of the Commonwealth Authorities (Annual Reporting) Orders 2011, thus the TSRA has not relied upon any exemption from the Finance Minister from any requirement of Commonwealth Authorities (Annual Reporting) Orders 2011 in the preparation of this report.

Freedom of Information

Agencies 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 (IPS). 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. An agency plan showing what information is published in accordance with the requirements is available at www.tsra.gov.au/media-and-publications/information-publication-scheme/tsra-information-publication-scheme-agency-plan.

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 accommodation, consisting of 53 houses and apartments. The TSRA also owns and maintains the Green Hill Fort. The Green Hill Fort is a listed place 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 have been carried out in a way that considers our obligations to environmental sustainability, meets government procurement guidelines and supports Indigenous and local businesses.

Renovations to residential property were carried out, in line with the TSRA five year maintenance programme.

In 2014 - 2015, a medium works project, approved by the public works committee, was underway for an 18-dwelling residential development on Clark Street on Thursday Island. The construction of this housing is expected to reduce the TSRA’s reliance on rental accommodation and provide longer term financial benefits for the TSRA.

Purchasing Policy

The current version of the TSRA’s Procurement and Contracts Policy was issued on 19 December 2012. The TSRA’s procurement practices are based on the principles of:

  • value for money
  • open and effective competition
  • ethical fair dealing
  • managing risk and accountability.

Disclosure of Sacred Matters

In accordance with section 144ZB(4) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (Cth), the TSRA Annual Report 2014 - 2015 does not disclose any matters known to the TSRA to be held sacred by Torres Strait Islanders or Aboriginal people.