We are continuing our work in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area through the Torres Strait Marine Safety Program (TSMSP) and Torres Strait Maritime Pathways Project (TSMPP).
Established in 2006, the TSMSP is a partnership with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ), Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), Queensland Police Service and National Maritime Safety Authority of Papua New Guinea. The program delivers a number of safety initiatives in an effort to improve and promote boating safety in the Torres Strait region; reduce the number of SAR operations in the area; increase the survivability of people lost at sea; and support development of the near coastal maritime industry.
One of the newest initiatives of the program is the school-based Maritime Safety Education workshops. These workshops aim to enhance maritime safety and the survivability of children who may become involved in a marine incident in the Torres Strait. The program provides contemporary marine safety education and resources such as lifejackets to educators, school children and parents.
Since July 2014, the marine safety workshops have been delivered at 23 school campuses distributing approximately 2500 properly fitting lifejackets and a marine safety equipment educational kit for ongoing maritime safety education and broader curriculum support.
We also continue to deliver maritime safety outcomes to residents of the Papua New Guinea treaty villages (adjacent to the Torres Strait), who regularly make open water voyages to visit Australian treaty villages, through the provision of 1050 lifejackets since the commencement of the program.
The Torres Strait Maritime Pathways Project (TSMPP) aims to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with maritime and maritime-related vocational career pathways. These pathways are designed to lead into careers through diverse and higher level qualifications, and literal pathways into maritime employment within or beyond the Torres Strait. The project opens career pathways in fishing, tourism, coastal trading and offshore shipping by assisting Indigenous people to acquire relevant nationally-recognised qualifications and experiences to be used in maritime industry including creating new businesses.
Since 2013, 95 per cent of the participants completed training and achieved nationally-accredited qualifications with 85 per cent in maritime-related employment. As of June 2016, a number of TSMPP participants are now employing at least two Indigenous staff members each in their local communities.
The reliance on seaborne transport over long distances across open-ocean in small open boats was resulting in very high occurrences of SAR incidents in the Torres Strait. The Torres Strait Marine Safety Program began after it was identified that Torres Strait Islanders had a one in 12 chance of being involved in a marine incident. This statistic was compared to Queenslanders in general having a one in 3300 chance of being involved in a marine incident. Today Torres Strait Islanders have a far lesser chance of being involved in a marine incident.