The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is the peak representative body for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait. The TSRA is an Australian Government Statutory Authority established in 1994 under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989, now known as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Act 2005.
The TSRA is managed by a Board of Directors which consists of 20 members who represent Torres Strait Islander communities across the region.
The TSRA vision is:
Empowering our people, in our decision, in our culture, for our future
The TSRA Outcome Statement is:
Progress towards closing the gap for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait Region through development planning, coordination, sustainable resource management, and preservation and promotion of Indigenous culture.
The TSRA aims to improve the lifestyle and wellbeing of the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait region by:
- gaining recognition of the rights, customs and identity of the local Indigenous peoples
- achieving a better quality of life for all people living in the Torres Strait region
- developing a sustainable economic base
- achieving better health and community services
- ensuring protection of the environment, and
- asserting native title over the lands and waters of the Torres Strait region.
Role of the Torres Strait Regional Authority
The role of the TSRA is to:
- formulate, coordinate and implement programs for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living within the region
- monitor the effectiveness of these programs, including programs conducted by other bodies
- advise the Minister for Indigenous Affairs on matters relating to Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Affairs in the Torres Strait
- recognise and maintain the special and unique Ailan Kastom (Island Custom) of the Torres Strait Islander people living in the Torres Strait Region, and
- undertake activities necessary to perform its function as defined by the ATSI Act 2005.
The TSRA's functions include administering programs to individuals, councils and community organisations within the Torres Strait region in seven key program areas that contribute to both the Regional Goals in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Plan and the COAG Building Blocks for overcoming Indigenous disadvantage:
- Economic Development
- Culture, Art and Heritage
- Native Title
- Environmental Management
- Governance and Leadership
- Healthy Communities
- Safe Communities
Torres Strait Region
The Torres Strait region covers an area of approximately 42,000 km2, stretching 150 km from Cape York Peninsula to 3.73 km off the south-west coast of Papua New Guinea. Its western-most border is 73.5 km from Indonesia.
The region straddles the Australia / Papua New Guinea international border and contains the Torres Strait Protected Zone, established under the Torres Strait Treaty between the two countries to acknowledge and protect the traditional way of life and livelihood of their Indigenous inhabitants.
The region is identified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as the 'Torres Strait Indigenous Region'. The majority of the population is Indigenous and comprises two distinct Indigenous races -Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal. The region consists of eighteen island communities of the Torres Strait and the two Torres Strait Islander communities of the Northern Peninsula Area of Cape York.
Figure 1 – Map of Torres Strait Region
For more information see the website of the Torres Strait Regional Authority.