Federal authority to transfer Torres Strait native title services to not-for-profit

By Jackson Graham

February 21, 2022

Thursday Island, Torres Straits
Thursday Island, Torres Straits (Natalie/Adobe)

A federal organisation set up in 1990s will stop overseeing native title in the Torres Strait, handing responsibility to Traditional Owners and prescribed body corporates. 

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) will cease being the native title representative when a peak not-for-profit becomes the recognised native title service provider on July 1. 

The TSRA, set up in 1994 to deliver better services to specifically Torres Strait Islander people, has over the years achieved 28 native title determinations on about 100 islands, islets, crays and sea areas.

The Gur A Baradharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council, also known as GBK, was established in 2012 as the peak body of all registered native title bodies and will take over the role of advancing and protecting native title rights. 

GBK chair Ned David said the transition was a goal for the organisation from its foundation. 

“This is indeed an exciting time,” David said. “It is a credit to all of our Traditional Owners, PBC and stakeholders that we finally achieve our key aspiration.” 

TSRA chair Napau Pedro Stephen the federal authority was proud of what it had achieved for native title holders and claimants. 

“TSRA has long supported GBK and its aspirations for autonomy,” Stephen said.  

“The transfer of the Native Title service will further solidify GBK as the region’s peak body for  prescribed body corporates and Traditional Owners.”

In November 2021, TSRA also transferred its prescribed body corporate support program to GBK. 

Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt said the transfer aligned with government objectives to empower and strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  

“Under the National Closing the Gap agreement, all Australian governments committed to building Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors to deliver services,” Wyatt said.

“By recognising Gur A Baradharaw Kod as service provider for the Torres Strait region, the Morrison government is continuing to do its part to deliver on this priority reform to strengthen and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people.”


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