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Major Infrastructure Programme

Major Infrastructure Programme: improving the health of the people living in the Torres Strait region

The Torres Strait Major Infrastructure Programme (MIP) is the TSRA’s flagship regional environmental health infrastructure development initiative, funded by the Australian Government, and delivered by the TSRA, in partnership with the Queensland Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.

In 1996-97 the Queensland Government commissioned a study to identify the public infrastructure required to improve the health of the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait region. The study identified that over the next ten years a capital investment of $318.13 million was required to provide basic, essential infrastructure to improve community health. It also found that in excess of $100 million was required to address urgent health related infrastructure shortfalls.

In 1998, the Australian and Queensland Governments agreed that the health of Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people in the region would be improved through the development or upgrading of the following basic environmental health infrastructure:

  • fresh water supply and treatment augmentation, reticulated sewerage and wastewater treatment
  • waste management, solid waste disposal
  • storm water and road drainage run-off, dust reduction (road sealing); and
  • housing sub-division development and essential services extensions

Since this time the Australian and Queensland Governments have been working to address the region’s environmental health infrastructure needs and have invested more than $250 million transforming the communities of the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area of mainland Australia.

The MIP also provides opportunities for employment and training, building the skills of local council staff engaged in the delivery of projects and the ongoing capacity of the local construction industry.

The sixth stage of the MIP commenced in 2017 with projects scheduled for completion in December 2020. Current projects, funded under MIP Stage 6, can be seen in Table 1 below.

TSRA MIP Brochure

Table 1: MIP 6 Projects 2017-2020
Local Government Authority Infrastructure Package Project Description Community
NPARC Sewerage Sewage ponds upgrade to increase treatment capacity and to incorporate New Mapoon loading Bamaga
NPARC Solid Waste Construction of new regional waste facility for NPARC to replace current facilities which are nearing capacity Regional
TSIRC Water Water – Replacement of Water Storage Compound Protection for lagoons including perimeter fencing and edging Saibai, Warraber
Dauan
TSIRC Water Replace, repair water lagoon covers Saibai, Erub, Mer, Ugar
TSIRC Water Refurbishment of water pumping stations for wells and lagoons, upgrade of infiltration galleries and replacement of supply mains Dauan
TSIRC Sewerage Replacement of effluent ocean outfall Saibai
TSIRC Sewerage Pump station refurbishment and sewerage treatment plant upgrade including electrical and controls, sludge drying beds and control building Boigu
TSIRC Sewerage Solar powered aerators to increase sewage pond efficiency Badu, Kubin, St Pauls
TSIRC Sewerage Sewerage pump station refurbishment including replacement of pumps, electrical and well relining Kubin, St Pauls
TSIRC Sewerage Sewage treatment plant refurbishment including pumps, valves and media Erub
TSC Sewerage Refurbishment of Sewerage Treatment Plant Thursday Island

Frequently Asked Questions

The Torres Strait Major Infrastructure Programme (MIP) is the TSRA’s flagship environmental health infrastructure development initiative. The main objective of the MIP is to improve the health of Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people by providing appropriate and sustainable environmental health infrastructure.

Healthy living conditions obtained through access to adequate fresh water supply, waste water and solid waste removal systems, removal of ponding water, road dust reduction and link infrastructure to support housing are vital to the health of individuals and communities. For many years island communities of the Torres Strait lived without these basic facilities and as a result were experiencing adverse effects on both community public health and overall wellbeing.

The 1993 Torres Strait Health Strategy outlined how health problems in the region were being exacerbated by poor quality and quantity of water, sewerage and waste disposal systems. In 1997, the majority of Torres Strait Island communities still had no flushing toilets, sewerage systems, or reliable drinking water supply.

The MIP was established in 1998 to deliver improvements to environmental health infrastructure in communities throughout the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area of mainland Australia.

Table 2 below demonstrates the impact of environmental health factors on individual and community health.

Table 2: Matrix of environmental health factors and the diseases to which they contribute
Environmental Factor Morbidity/Mortality Factor
Pneumonia Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Scabies Streptococcal Skin Infection Gastrointestinal Disease Hepatitis Trachoma
Inadequate water supply for drinking, bathing and washing
Poor sewerage disposal systems
Inadequate shelter
Infection in dogs
Excessive dust
Inadequate waste disposal mechanisms
Fly plagues
Overcrowding in houses

The MIP funds the development of infrastructure that contributes to improved public health, sanitation and reduction of vector borne disease outcomes in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area. Examples of infrastructure built through the MIP include water treatment/desalination plants, sewerage treatment plants, solid waste management/disposal, housing subdivisions and essential service extensions, and improvements to drainage and roads in order to reduce dust, prevent stagnant water sources and lower the risk of mosquito and vector borne diseases.

See more information in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Infrastructure to address environmental health factors
Infrastructure Scope Environmental Factor
Water supply and treatment augmentation Provision of potable water (water for drinking, bathing and washing)
New or upgraded reticulated sewerage and treatment systems Provides sewerage disposal systems and fly control
New fully serviced subdivision housing lots Allows additional housing to provide adequate shelter and reduce overcrowding
Storm water drainage and surface drainage infrastructure Provides a safer environment and adequate shelter by reducing flooding, water ponding and general disease control (eg. reduce mosquito breeding)
Upgraded and sealed internal roads Dust reduction
Solid waste disposal facilities Adequate waste disposal and fly control
Planning documentation (mapping, community infrastructure plans etc) Planning to fund and manage MIP to best address all the environmental factors

Since 1998, over $250 million has been provided by the Australian and Queensland Governments towards the delivery of over 130 major environmental health infrastructure projects in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area. MIP Stage 6, which will run from 2017-2020, has a total budget of $30 million. A list of MIP 6 projects can be seen in Table 1 above.

Governance and Finance

MIP funding is administered through a Memorandum of Understanding between the TSRA and the Queensland Government through theDepartment of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DILGP, formally the Department of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience).

Technical Expertise and Programme Management

The MIP Technical Management Committee meets quarterly to review the programme of works and comprises at least one representative from each of the TSRA, and the Queensland Government represented by DILGP, the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Torres Shire Council, Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council and the MIP Programme Manager. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet along with other relevant agencies participate regularly as observers.

Independent Review and Audit

The MIP has undergone several independent reviews in 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2015. In addition to annual independent financial audits of the Major infrastructure and Other Projects Trust Fund the MIP has also been reviewed by the Australian National Audit Office, most recently in 2013.

Each of these reviews has concluded that MIP is a highly successful programme which is supported by robust governance oversight, project management and delivery arrangements.

The MIP delivers improved environmental health infrastructure to communities located in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area.

At the beginning of each new stage of the MIP Local Government Councils (Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Torres Shire Council, and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council) work together with the MIP Programme Manager, TSRA and Queensland Government Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DILGP) to identify a list of regional priorities, according to the needs of their communities.

Candidate projects are prioritised according to criteria underpinned by National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS) methodology, based on a key set of parameters relating to expected environmental health improvements and subsequent positive impact on living conditions. The TSRA and DILGP then work to secure funding for those projects via submissions to each level of Government.

Candidate projects must demonstrate:

  • improvements to physical infrastructure and contribution to improved environmental health conditions
  • long term health benefits to the community
  • quality and/or completeness of infrastructure on completion of project
  • opportunities for local development (eg. through training, employment and the use of community resources), ‘shovel’ readiness, and council priorities
  • that they are appropriate for the location, fit for purpose and sustainable management arrangements are in place

Most importantly, the assessment process identifies projects that address the primary objective of the MIP: to improve the health of people living in the Torres Strait.

All MIP assets are built in collaboration with the relevant grantee local government council. Where possible the council is engaged to undertake all or part of the construction works under the guidance of a qualified Project Manager. This in-house construction arrangement supports local skills development and council capacity to manage, maintain and operate the completed asset. Once completed all assets constructed under MIP are owned and managed by the relevant local council.

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.