There is an urgent need to redress the social and economic disadvantage of Indigenous Australians, as articulated in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; calling for strong economic participation and development of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people and communities. Real opportunities are required in local communities, that are collaborative in approach and allow for the ownership ability of outcomes.
There are many existing industries that exist with the Torres Strait region, such as commercial fishing, arts and culture, however without proper sector investment, resources and development, the many commercial and social barriers encountered when operating within remote and regional areas can become overwhelming.
- Commitment to consult and work with Council on proactive economic, social and environmental solutions to meet the aspirations of local communities, groups and individuals.
- Support from all levels of government to stimulate and encourage private sector investment into the Torres Strait region by incentivising sector development in the following areas:
a. Renewable energy and emission reduction solutions.
b. Digital development and smart tech pilot programs.
c. Key tourism industry (incl. arts, culture and education) development.
- Support deregulation initiatives to foster the introduction of aquaculture and farming opportunities.
- Support for Council’s Business Hub, located in Cairns, providing culturally safe space and support structures for Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs to access opportunities and conduct business on the mainland.
As the major contributor to employment within our region Council has 81.2% of all roles based within local island communities. We are actively working on the retention of vital trades and skill development within our region with a growing apprenticeship program, that leads to full time employment and ongoing mentoring.
Council has implemented a clear return on investment model for funding partners in of infrastructure and operational program delivery aligning to supplier diversity best practice, with a majority (82.3%) Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal workforce and are well on track for gender parity with 43.4% employment and in 52.6% of our leadership roles.
The Torres Strait Regional Local Government Area is already home to three thriving Art Centres, each unique and with an international presence in their own right, these centres are:
- Erub Arts on Erub (Darnley Is.)
- Badu Art Centre on Badu (Mulgrave Is.)
- Moa Arts at Arkai (Kubin) Community on Mua Island
The concept of private sector investment utilising methods such as tax concession has seen great success in the development of Indigenous entrepreneurs in other countries like Canada, and this concept has previously been raised to the Productivity Commission via a ‘Submission to the Inquiry into Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payment’s by the Indigenous Reference Group to the Ministerial Forum on Northern Development.
The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s ‘A Charter: Promoting the economic interests of Indigenous Australian Businesses Overseas’ requires ‘Effective economic diplomacy requires a ‘Team Australia’ approach to international engagement. Access to international opportunities for Indigenous businesses are enhanced through inclusive, coordinated and outcomes-focused initiatives.’; Torres Strait Islander businesses, specifically in the areas of Art, Fisheries and Tourism, can play a pivotal role in the realisation of the Charter’s aspirations.