Torres Strait Islander Regional Council (TSIRC) Housing Services Team


Top row left to right: Yancy Tamu, Renee Pearson, William Melleuish, Annie Zaro, John Coyle, Thowa Whap, Phillemon Mosby, Josephine Ahmat, John Paiwan

Bottom row left to right: Elizabeth Uiduldam, Marie-Claire Cull, Hilda Mosby, Polly Akiba, Georgina Thaiday, Peli Ware, Monique Willey, Sadie Matisia, Margaret Warusam

Our message is simple – never doubt yourself. If you put your mind to it – women can do anything. It’s because of the extraordinary influence from women who have survived the hardships they lived through that a path has been carved for future generation. It’s because of them we can.

The Torres Strait Islander Regional Council (TSIRC) is Queensland’s largest Indigenous tenancy manager.

The TSIRC Housing Services Team manage over 900 social housing rental properties across 14 of the Torres Strait Island communities. They were nominated by Monique Willey from Torres Strait Island Regional Council.

The Team were also recently recognised by the Local Government Managers Australia (Queensland) Awards for Excellence in the category of ‘doing more with less’.

This award category recognises projects or initiatives that showcase the philosophy of ‘doing more with less’. Lateral thinking, creativity, increased productivity and simplicity are the drivers of this successful project or initiative that is an aspirational model for other smaller councils.

Q Shelter interviewed three women from the Housing Services Team in recognition of the contribution their entire team makes to their communities.


Georgina Thaiday

I was born in Cairns but Mum and Dad decided to move to the Torres Strait when I was around three years old.

I’ve lived on Darnley Island ever since then where I finished school, got a full-time job, and am now married with three children.

I’ve been a Housing Officer for eight years, and it’s very different to all of my past occupations.

The role is very new and I face challenges every day – but that’s a good thing as I like to challenge myself.

What I find particularly rewarding is working with Torres Strait Islander ladies. It’s great when they come back to you and recognise the effort I make in helping them.

NAIDOC Week is important to me as my culture is part of my identity. Mum always told us the stories and made sure she passed on the knowledge of their childhood to ours. Culture is very important to us and needs to be strong.

This year’s NAIDOC theme is particularly significant as I have a lot of women in my life who have inspired me.

My two most important role models are my Mum and my big sister. My Mum and I have been through tough times and she was very strict with me growing up. However in the end, I am grateful for her teachings as they’ve made me be a good Mother, a good wife, and a role model for my own children.

I am also inspired by my older sister as she always finds the time to stay connected to her family although she lives away from us. I admire the way she values family and connectedness.

“Because of her we can” highlights who we are and what we do today and the struggles we go through.

Inspire others with love, passion & humbleness.

Female Islanders can be very hard to be heard. It is only because of our past role models and Elders that we have these rights and voice to speak up. It touches our hearts to see the courage and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders ladies recognised this NAIDOC Week.

Margaret Warusam

I’m originally from Boigu Island but my husband is from Saibai Island.

I have lived on Saibai for almost 11-12 years now and I’ve been with the Torres Strait Islander Regional Council since 2015. I love being a Housing Officer as it’s a very challenging job, but I’m also in a unique position to be able to help people in my community.

It’s a privilege to be able to help our people with providing a positive efficient community service through Housing – especially those in overcrowded houses and those experiencing homelessness.

Culture and heritage is very important to me, and my husband plays a huge role in the community with keeping our culture alive. He is a Local Police Support Officer, Deacon at the Holy Trinity Church Saibai and is 1 of the Directors for our 7 Clan Native Title group.

I’m very proud of our family; we have five beautiful children 3 Boys & 2 Girls.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme “Because of her we can” is an inspiration to me. It’s amazing to be able to celebrate the role that individual women have played and continue to play in our communities and regions. This isn’t just in the Torres Strait – it’s also about women who work at a local, state and federal level.

I’ve been supported by a number of women in my life, but my Mum is my main inspiration. She is from a mixed heritage consisting & originating from the Eastern parts of Torres Strait Islands and the Pacific Islands from a village call Rotuma near Fiji. She has worked with the Australian Border Force team for over 20 years and is the face of the community of Boigu Island.

She has dealt with all sorts of situations – especially through the Top Western Island’s as we have had people from all over the world come through the Torres Strait under the Local Treaty act. Watching my Mum succeed at work has made me committed to doing the best job I can.

She is a very strong woman, a brilliant cook, and attends Church on Sundays. She taught us how to go about things in a respectful way, respect our elders, always smile and say hello to strangers and be kind.  She inspires me to be a better person every day.

I was recently involved in hosting an International Women’s’ Day Celebration event on Saibai this year and one of the messages I gave on that day was never doubt yourself. If you put your mind to it – Women can do anything.

I like to promote equality between men and women through a quote from the Bible:

The Women came out of a Man’s rib. Not from his feet to be walked on, not his head to be superior, but from his side to be equal, under the arm to be protected & next to the heart to be Loved – Genesis 2:22

Polly Akiba

I was born on Thursday Island and raised on Masig until was Four years old then moved to Yam Island. I moved to Saibai in September 2018 to live with my husband and 3 children. “Saibai is where I call home”

My mother is a Torres Strait Islander from Yam Island and my Dad is a Torres Strait Islander from Masig.

I started working at the Torres Strait Islander Regional Council in March 2015 and have learned so much already.  I love this role as I wanted to take on something different and this is where I am now.

Being part of the housing team I’ve gained a lot of experience and met so many people along the way as well.

Now I get to work with tenants/occupants of Saibai community. This means that I see different faces that come into the office and talking to someone new every day.

I enjoy working with the Housing Team, and particularly value working with them. We have really good relationships with each other. We became become Sisters and Aunties to each other.  They are encouraging – especially on day where one of us needs assistance in their respective community.

NAIDOC Week means a lot to me as it showcases our culture and our identity, where we come from, our background, even the knowledge of the local people.

What I admire about my culture is traditional dancing, traditional songs, hymns & choruses and also cooking traditional food.

Reflecting on this year’s theme, I want to make sure I recognise my Mum who was my main inspiration growing up.

During my childhood; I gained knowledge from her, I gained experience from her, and now I’ve learnt how to be an independent woman.

I also value her contribution to our community through cooking, singing & dancing. She was one of the “field boss” when it comes to island dancing. My Mum also was one of the people in the community who always catered for big occasions and my sisters took up the load as well.

I’m only successful because of the influence my mother, sisters and all of the women who survived living in hardship.  It’s because of those ladies that we can do what we do today.  “Even if we are struggling, even if we find our day to day living very hard, it gives us strength thinking of the ladies that came before us”

Even if we are struggling, even if we find our day to day living very hard, it gives us strength thinking of the ladies that came before us.

It’s because of them we can.

Through their hardships they’ve given us paths to succeed.