News & Resources


Telstra Regional Communications Upgrade

The TSRA has continued to work with Telstra to improve regional communications. A submission supported by both Telstra and the TSRA was made to the Mobile Black Spot Programme Round 2 funding; however, it was not successful. The TSRA, in partnership with Telstra, will continue to engage at the Commonwealth, state and local government levels to seek support and commitment for the required capital for this proposed project in the coming financial year.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Infrastructure

As part of an initiative to begin to move the TSRA’s ICT systems and services to the cloud, the ICT team has been working closely with Telstra to improve the network communications infrastructure to TSRA offices. With the upgrade of the internet links for TSRA offices on Thursday Island and in Cairns, the focus has been identifying which systems and services are best moved into the cloud. The TSRA has been in negotiation with vendors of the TSRA’s existing finance and human resource systems to look at the best option for these programmes to ensure ongoing ease of access for TSRA staff.

Grant Management System

The TSRA transitioned to a new grant management system in the reporting period. The transition migrated all data contained in the TSRA’s previous grant management system onto a new platform called Smarty Grants, which was provided by the Australian Institute of Grants Management. All grant data was migrated to Smarty Grants by 30 June 2016 and existing grant management practices were reviewed and processes developed to align with current best practice. The TSRA will be using its new grant management system from 2016-2017 onwards.

Support for Outer Island Ranger Sites

The ICT team has continued to seek improvements to the level of service provided to the outer island ranger sites. In the reporting period, the TSRA trialled an initiative to have a full-time ICT staff member based at one of the TSRA ranger sites to focus on outer island ICT support. The trial was successful and the TSRA is considering options to continue the arrangement in the coming financial year.


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. Table 4-9 provides an overview of the TSRA’s environmental activities and operations in relation to section 516A of the EPBC Act.

Table 4-9: Report on compliance with the EPBC Act, section 516A

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 2015-2016, the TSRA worked on implementing activities identified through its environmental management system, focused on ensuring 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:
  • employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 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 implementing management strategies for invasive fish, cane toads, and feral dogs impacting on green turtle nesting sites, and developing 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 turtles and dugongs
  • working with Ergon Energy and other partners to increase the use of renewable energy technologies
  • developing and implementing actions to build 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 2015-2016.
Measures taken to minimise environmental impacts Actions during 2015-2016 included:
  • continuing the operation of three solar photovoltaic systems on TSRA office sites, resulting in a projected annual energy saving of 140,000 kilowatt hours
  • continuing to require 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
  • monitoring 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
  • adopting appropriate technologies to reduce travel and reduce the TSRA’s dependence on paper-based filing systems, including
    • 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 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 involving a systematic process for maintaining risk within an acceptable level (Figure 4-2).

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 affect the achievement of the goals of the TSRA. This includes:

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

Risks are identified via:

  • an annual risk management workshop attended by the TSRA’s Management Group (top–down approach)
  • completion of individual risk assessments at the programme and/or 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 and the consequence or impact of the risk.

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:

  • investment 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.

The TSRA’s risk appetite is necessarily around the middle of the risk-taking spectrum. Depending on the results from year to year and 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.

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 within their span of control.

The members of the TSRA’s Management Group are responsible for:

  • incorporating suitable risk management activities into business planning (via completion of a risk assessment at the programme or project level)
  • ensuring that the 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 the International Standard AS/NZ ISO 31000 Risk Management – principles and guidelines.


External Scrutiny

During the 2015-2016 reporting period the TSRA, as a corporate Commonwealth entity, was 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 2015-2016 audit was conducted in August 2016. 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 fraud control mechanisms in accordance with section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth). No incidents of fraud were detected in 2015-2016.

Internal Audit

The TSRA Audit Committee is assisted in the internal audit function by an external contractor, HLB Mann Judd. HLB Mann Judd is responsible for implementing the TSRA’s internal audit programme, which aims to provide assurance that key risks are being managed effectively and efficiently, including that the TSRA complies with regulatory requirements and policies.

Compliance Report

In accordance with section 19 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth), 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: ‘Has complied with the provisions and requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act); and 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. The TSRA has an annual insurance renewal process, and reviewed its insurance coverage in 2015-2016 to ensure it remained appropriate for its operations.

During the year, no indemnity-related claims were made, and the TSRA is not aware of any circumstances likely to lead to such claims being made.

The cost of directors’ and officers’ indemnity insurance for 2015-2016 was $10,082.

a photograph of Minister For Indigenous Affairs Senator The Hon Nigel Scullion, Torres Shire Mayor Pedro Stephen, TSRA Chairperson Joseph Elu And Kaurareg Native Title Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson Milton Savage


Directors’ Interests Policy

In accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) and the PGPA Rule, 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. The pecuniary interest processes apply to all governance committees of the TSRA.


The TSRA’s employees are located at TSRA facilities on Thursday Island, and throughout the island communities of the Torres Strait, Queensland. A small TSRA office in Cairns continues to be used to increase the TSRA’s capacity to attract people with skills and experience not available in the Torres Strait.

The TSRA has a workforce strategy that complements the Torres Strait Development Plan 2014-2018 and sets the strategic direction for supporting and developing the TSRA’s 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 2016 the next TSRA Enterprise Agreement was still being negotiated. The salary ranges for staff covered under the current enterprise agreement range from $42,334 for an APS Level 1 staff member to $130,164 for an Executive Level 2 staff member.

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 and leave arrangements.

Learning and Development

The TSRA’s employees attended internal and external learning and development courses throughout 2015-2016. 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.

As part of their induction, all new TSRA employees complete the Australian Public Service Commission’s online induction programme. In addition, all TSRA employees with a requirement for field travel as part of their role complete helicopter underwater escape training.

The TSRA Performance Development Programme informs the learning and development required 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 2015-2016.

The TSRA has a work health and safety management system. There were two notifications made to Comcare under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) during the year arising from undertakings by the TSRA.

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.

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 work health and safety policy and operational matters. Employees are informed of current issues and receive work 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 work 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. The TSRA provides staff who travel frequently in helicopters as part of their duties with helicopter underwater escape training and provides flu vaccinations as well as a healthy lifestyle reimbursement of up to $200 per year for employees.

The TSRA has in place 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 (ACN 152 509 37) to provide Employee Assistance Programme services to all employees where required.

a photograph of TSRA Staff Conduct Aps Legislation And Decision-Making Training


Workplace Diversity

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

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 and 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.

Staffing Profile

Tables 4-10 and 4-11 provide information on the TSRA’s employee numbers and classifications as at 30 June 2016.

Table 4-10: Staff profile at 30 June 2016 by APS level

SES or equivalent 2
Executive Level 2 6
Executive Level 1 19
APS 6 29
APS 5 24
APS 4 7
APS 3 26
APS 2 14
APS 1 25
Total 152

Table 4-11: Staff profile at 30 June 2016 by equal employment opportunity group

SES or equivalent 2 0 2 0
Executive Level 2 4 2 1 0
Executive Level 1 8 11 4 0
APS 6 14 15 15 1
APS 5 5 19 19 0
APS 4 2 5 7 0
APS 3 15 11 25 0
APS 2 8 6 14 0
APS 1 21 4 25 0
Total 79 73 112 1


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 From 2010-2011, departments and agencies were no longer required to report on these functions.

Freedom of Information

Agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme. This requirement is in Part II of the 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 on the TSRA’s website (

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 historic Green Hill Fort. The Green Hill Fort is listed 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 are carried out in a way that meets the TSRA’s obligations to environmental sustainability, meets government procurement guidelines and supports Indigenous and local businesses.

The TSRA offices have been through significant and ongoing upgrades to ICT systems, equipment, air-conditioning and other soft infrastructure to ensure compliance and scalability to meet current and future demands.

Renovations to residential property have been carried out in line with the TSRA five-year maintenance programme.

A works project, approved by the public works committee, is 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.

Disclosure of Sacred Matters

In accordance with section 144ZB(4) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (Cth), the TSRA Annual Report 2015-2016 does not disclose any matters known to the TSRA to be held sacred by Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal people.