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Torres Strait woman receives national seafood industry award

Local Seafood Warrior’s commitment to the seafood industry has been rewarded at the National Seafood Industry Awards: Seafood Directions 2019, in Melbourne from 9-11 October.

Ms Flora Warrior from Mabuyag Island was sponsored by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) to attend the 2019 National Seafood Industry Awards Gala as part of a delegation to the conference, where she received the People Development Award in recognition for her volunteer work in the sector.

Ms Warrior was nominated for her volunteer work in helping members of her community to access appropriate training and development in the seafood and marine sector and for finding innovative ways to support fishers through grass roots economic development.

TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said the award was great recognition for Ms Warrior’s efforts and reinforces the important position of the Torres Strait in the national seafood industry.

“Through the TSRA’s sponsorship of the National Seafood Industry Leadership Program, we assist people like Ms Warrior, who are dedicated industry specialists to become the leaders of the future,” Mr Stephen said.

“The national award for People Development is evidence of her achievements and proof that she has been a worthy candidate and role model for others.”

Ms Warrior said she was honoured to receive the award and was grateful for the support she has received from the TSRA and from the community to travel to Melbourne.

“It was exciting to receive the award and to be recognised for my work as a volunteer in the sector and for our region,” Ms Warrior said.

Ms Warrior, is the founder and volunteer coordinator of the Mabuyag Island NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) Program, has worked hard to ensure eligible fishers could also use the microfinance program for economic development purposes, as a NILS loan usually covers basic household assets like white goods.

Her vision was for other communities in the Torres Strait to set up their own community-owned microfinance programs to grow their local industries and assist those that struggle to obtain safe microfinance at the grass roots level.

Ms Warrior, who also runs her own small business as an Indigenous Business Consultant, said it is important to ensure that there are different levels of finance available for our fishers and our future fishers to purchase equipment and small assets because not everyone is eligible for a big loan.

“Sometimes we need to think outside of the box and grow our own solutions in our own backyard,” Ms Warrior said.

“I had the support of other women in the community to establish the Mabuyag Island Women’s Network and to start the NILS program. We engaged with Mabuyag IBIS, our local supplier and with a partner organization (SHAC) in Cairns to use their loan funds for our NILS program.”

Mr Johnny Malakula Kris, local fisher who received a NILS loan and who is also Mabuyag PBC Chair; was happy with the win for his community:

“We are a remote community and there are not enough jobs, so we find ourselves needing assistance sometimes, and initiatives like this can give people a step up into industry.”

The TSRA, together with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ), Queensland Police Service (QPS) and National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) of Papua New Guinea were also nominated at the National Seafood Industry Awards in the safety category for the Torres Strait Marine Safety Program (TSMSP).

Commencing in 2006, the TSMSP is a joint initiative of organisations including the TSRA and MSQ, before being joined by current program partners, the QPS and NMSA of PNG in later years.

The TSRA sponsored a delegation to attend Seafood Directions 2019 including TSRA Chairperson Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, TSRA Fisheries Portfolio Member Mr Yen Loban, Fishing Industry Sole Trader Mr James Mills, Community Fisher Advocate, Ms Flora Warrior, TSRA Economic Development and Fisheries Programme Manager Mark Anderson, TSRA Fisheries Project Manager Ms Allison Runck.

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