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An autonomous, prosperous and sustainable community and council

Priority Area Three - Climate Change Mitigation & Protection from Natural Disaster Impact






What is the issue?

The reality of climate change does not get any more real than on the remote outer island communities of the Torres Strait. The geographical positioning and exposure of communities has also meant continual recovery efforts to remain resilient in increased severe weather events.

Watch the Every King Tide video, from SBS Australia, to learn about the effects of climate change on our Poruma Community:


Why is this important for our communities?

Elders are literally witnessing the complete eradication of cultural places; tidal inundation and erosion is so severe in some locations that we have literally seen areas of significance, such as burial sites, be irreversibly affected. If proactive and sustainable solutions for both coastal defence and extreme weather protection aren’t reached within the next 5 years, urgent measures will need to take place for the complete displacement of communities from their traditional island homes.

Community coastal defense ratings:


What we are seeking:

- Urgent and bipartisan collaboration with Council on a climate change and natural disaster mitigation roadmap; ensuring milestones are sustainable, and supportive of local industry and employment outcomes.

- Assurance that a more proactive and sustainable approach is applied to natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements, acknowledging the unique challenges of the Torres Strait region.

- Collaboration with Council to develop and deliver an appropriate local Fire Service and Emergency Management model, resource and capability plan(s) for the Torres Strait Regional Local Government Area.

- Investment in pilot program(s) for renewable energy production and consumption offset solutions, such as electric vehicles and associated network charging infrastructure.


What we know:

Rising sea level forecasted to 1m:

The Commonwealth-funded Reef and Rainforest Research Centre report 'A synthesis of climate change and coastal science to support adaptation in Torres Strait communities', in 2010 predicted that sea levels in the Torres Strait are expected to rise by up to a metre by the year 2100, and up to 15 centimetres over the next two decades.

A synthesis of climate change and coastal science to support adaptation in Torres Strait communities (2010)

Local labour & innovative construction techniques:

When partnered with the correct investment, local knowledge and labour has delivered in communities like Poruma (Coconut Is.), where Council utilised geotextile sandbagging techniques to deliver rectification works considerably below market value. This has been further evidenced in the Commonwealth commissioned Torres Strait Seawalls Evaluation Report, in 2018.


Betterment funding requirement:

The Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) and the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) are vital in assisting councils and communities to recover from major natural disasters. It is critical that the costs of restoring government infrastructure are shared across all levels of government.

Regionally we have witnessed significant increases in extreme weather events; rebuilding infrastructure to its original state and condition is no longer sufficient. It’s a very expensive band-aid application year after year, i.e. road repair. Betterment funding is a more sustainable alternative, for example, following a severe weather event, dirt roads that are damaged are sealed instead.


Appropriate Rural Fire Service solution for region:

An appropriate Rural Fire Service solution is yet to be realised, whilst new infrastructure has been generously provided by the State, a ‘one size fits all model’ won’t work in the Torres Strait region. Within the last 2 years there has been several serious incidents which have caused a costly flow on effect to Council due to lack of infrastructure, and capability.




























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