Our community wishes to establish the Gelam Marine Institute as a Centre of Excellence for Marine Research for the Torres Strait.
The goal of the Institute will be to promote better employment and training outcomes for Torres Strait peoples' especially 'Rightful Owners' the Mualgal people.
The Institute will assist in the contribution to the local economy and alleviate chronic social welfare needs. It will enhance, promote and maintain cultural integrity within the island & Adai - NPA communities. In addition, it will build partnerships with various agencies to foster and encourage reconciliation, and autonomy to benefit all within the region and sub-region of Torres Strait.
The marine centre proposal is to develop tropical marine education, building a sensible strong marine economic base that will use the skills of the Mualgal but also Indigenous/non-Indigenous Torres Strait Islanders. In future this will enable us to target the global, national & local marine markets.
The institute will focus on key marine economic and social policy issues confronting island communities - economic development, employment opportunities, governance, welfare dependency, cultural vitality, leadership and drug & alcohol abuses, if needed to be concurrent essentials.
The marine institute will secure investments from Commonwealth & State governments, corporate Australia and private industries.
Building the appropriate marine economy development is a platform to autonomy of self-determination within the Torres Strait. The concept of self-determination is having a solid economic base that provides security to Torres Strait Islander people in the future.
Introducing Gelam Marine Institute
- Vision of Waubin Richard Aken, Chairman of Balkanu and Elder and rightful owner of Kaurareg people
- Focussed on developing marine economy in Torres Strait
- Envisages tertiary educational and research campus on Mua Island, linked to commercial marine harvest employment
Outline of Vision for Institute
- Will liaise with existing educational and commercial organisations
- Mualgal Elders want to develop a strong marine economy
- GMI's aim is to strengthen and educate people re this economy and bring social and cultural developments, and financial management
- The vision is to empower Torres Strait Islander sand Aboriginals and their families to determine their own economic issues, based on wisdom, strength and unity
Making the vision a reality
- In the longer term, share knowledge with international partners
- Develop a tropical marine higher education facility in the Torres Strait
- Build a skills base to enable local people to target local and overseas markets for marine products
Suggested collaboration with JCU
- Ensure there is a viable marine economy to support employment for those trained, and facilitate indigenous financial management of these businesses
- Joint search for seed funding (e.g. Feasibility Study)
GMI provides onsite access to TSI marine research
- Explore viability of GMI being a JCU Campus
- GMI provides access to TSI communities and their local marine knowledge
- JCU provides academic curriculum and teaching staff
- GMI provides work opportunities for graduates
- What is current tertiary landscape in Torres Strait Islands?
- If JCU and GMI to collaborate, what joint structure?
- What steps are needed to gain approval in principle for a new tertiary institute in the Straits?
- What higher education bodies need to be consulted and give their endorsement to GMI?
Gaps in Torres Strait education
- What corporate structure is best for GMI - how should it be separate from any commercial arm (employing graduates)?
financial management etc
- Aim is to train Island and PNG students in Straits marine economy, ecosystems, harvest sustainability, practical marine harvesting, scientific assessment of climate change,
- What exists in TSI at present for the above and what are the gaps? Could GMI fill them?
How we might work together?
- To what extent is local marine culture being preserved and taught? Can GMI address?
- Agree that we will pursue jointly - draft and sign MOU re partneship
- Draft contractual service agreement
- Prepare draft operating model
- Share back office services - legal, HR, OH&S, accounting, student support
- Assess student demand and set up marketing in Australia and overseas
- In the future, network with other international students and attract international funding
Assistance with funding applications
- GMI provide access to JCU and other scientific bodies (e.g. CSIRO) in TSI for research
- Suggest funding bodies for tertiary institution development including seed funding for Feasibility Study by GMI
- Prepare supporting documentation re use of GMI in Torres Strait marine research and onsite teaching
- Assist in completing application forms with necessary academic information and endorsement
- Collaborate to obtain main project funding
- Assist with questions of licensing, academic staff proposals, capital and operational costing estimates
Suggested next steps
- Provide an agreed form of endorsement (after due consideration) to the GMI proposal
- Set up working group - meet fortnightly for 3 months?
- Set timeline goals - seed funding
- Prepare JCU support paper with proposed academic and back office support from JCU
- Propose governance structure for joint project
- Consider implications for combined academic and commercial venture
Type of Support Needed
We seek financial support to implement the strategy plans. The capital investments in this case would allow the GMI to activate its operations. It is envisaged that strong financial management accountability is essential for the GMI to successfully achieve its goals.
Type of Mentoring Needed
Type of Investment Needed
Capital Funding for Physical Infrastructure
Recurrent Funding Support
Technical Assistance and Development
Venture capital investment
Indigenous Cultural Heritage
Indigenous Economic Development
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