Terms of reference

Background and scope

The Queensland Government is committed to ensuring fisheries resources are managed in a sustainable and responsible manner that recognises the interests of all Queenslanders. An important part of fisheries management is stakeholder engagement through working groups.

Working groups provide advice within the scope of this terms of reference, which is considered alongside advice, information, requirements and feedback from:

  • Fisheries Queensland
  • Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel
  • other government agencies
  • public consultation.

Collectively, this informs decisions on the management of our fisheries.

A 2020 election commitment for the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities was to establish a special fisheries working group, working closely with key stakeholders, to identify new economic pathways through charter fisheries and tourism operations while ensuring sustainable fisheries are maintained in Cape York.

While the election commitment focused on charter fishing and tourism pathways, this working group will take the opportunity to consider a broader range of economic initiatives related to fishing and fisheries resources.

This initiative contributes to Queensland's Closing the Gap Implementation Plan—Outcome 15: Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples maintain a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with their land and waters. Closing the Gap aims to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by ensuring we work in partnership with First Nations Australians to deliver change.

Find out more information about Closing the Gap.


The objectives of the Cape York Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Special Fisheries Working Group (the Special Working Group) are to:

  • Provide strategic advice on innovation, business and entrepreneurship matters related, but not limited charter fishing, ecotourism and other fisheries-related economic opportunities for government consideration.
  • Provide advice to the Indigenous Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel representative.
  • Help co-design new programs and initiatives.
  • Provide advice on the development of an action plan and advice on the implementation and effectiveness of existing policy settings and programs.
  • Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and provide advice on community views and issues.
  • Act as champions to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurship, business and innovation.
  • Provide advice on the assessment of grant funding initiatives.

The Special Working Group is a non-statutory advisory body. It is not a decision-making body.

Duration of the Working Group

The Special Working Group will be established for a 2-year period.


Composition of membership

The Special Working Group membership includes successful leaders with expertise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander innovation, business, entrepreneurship, community development and government relations.

To ensure an appropriate breadth of experience, membership will include a mix of experts from the following:

  • Queensland locations: it is recommended that at least 4 members be located in Far North Queensland.
  • Business types: micro business, small to medium enterprise, and influential organisations involved in business, retail supply chain, Indigenous employment and businesses established on country.
  • Business stages: entrepreneurs, start-ups, business owner/operators, business scale up, inventors/innovators.
  • Networks with: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This will bring together a diverse range of experience and perspective which can provide broad-based expertise and independent advice. Membership will be limited to no more than 11 people to ensure the working group is manageable.

MemberDetails Key roles and responsibilities
  • Person appointed by the responsible Minister
  • Chairing special working group meetings
  • Endorsing special working group agenda and meeting papers
  • Ensuring action items and outstanding issues are adequately addressed in required timeframes
Appointed Members
  • Persons appointed by the responsible Minister
  • Providing independent advice and perspective on agenda items as per the objectives
  • Where relevant, networking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and present their views to the special working group
  • Participating in strategic discussions
  • Recommending topics to the special fisheries working group for discussion at subsequent meetings
  • Participating in the development and delivery of the special fisheries working group fisheries Indigenous action plan
Local Council Members
  • Mayors of Aboriginal Local Councils
Supporting Members
  • An Executive Director from Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • An Executive Director from Department of Tourism Innovation and Sport (DTIS)
  • Other agencies as required
  • Providing information and updates on departmental and whole of government initiative as appropriate
  • Communicating relevant information to Queensland Government officers, including officers within other relevant delivery agencies
  • Ensuring relevant assigned actions and decisions are acted upon by relevant officers
  • Persons with expertise in a particular area who are invited to meetings from time to time by the Chair
  • Providing specific advice on one or more agenda items

Appointment of members

The Chair and appointed members of the Special Working Group are appointed by the responsible Minister.

An expression of interest process will be used to call for members across the mix of expertise. Prospective members will be invited to provide a statement to confirm their suitability for appointment to the panel, with specific reference to the elements outlined in the composition of membership.

Initial selection of members and any subsequent appointments will seek to achieve the best mix of expertise across all elements outlined in the composition of membership. Depending on the stage of the work program, observers with expertise in various fields may be invited to certain meetings to provide specific advice.


The operation of the Special Working Group will consist of 4 meetings per year and within reason, out-of-scope advice and review of documents may be required.

Confidentiality and non-disclosure

Members and observers must comply with the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service, including the following requirements:

  • Observe confidentiality and exercise tact and discretion when dealing with sensitive issues. If a stakeholder member is concerned about the disclosure to non-members of an issue that they consider may be sensitive, the member should seek advice from the Chair.
  • At all times act honestly, exercise care and diligence in the discharge of their duties and not make improper use of inside information. Information is considered to be used improperly where, by using the information, a member gains an advantage either directly or indirectly (financial or otherwise) over another person or causes detriment to the project or to another person.
  • Not publish or communicate to any person, who they are not authorised to publish or communicate to, any fact or document which comes to their knowledge, or into their possession because they are a Special Working Group member and which (because of its confidential nature) it is their duty not to disclose.
  • If necessary, declare any conflict of interest prior to the commencement of each meeting. Conflicts of interest should be formally recorded on a Conflict of Interest Register. At the direction of the Chair, members or observers who identify conflicts of interest with one or more agenda items may need to absent themselves from the discussion for the duration of those agenda items.

Sitting fees and expenses

There are no sitting fees attached to the working group, however Fisheries Queensland will pay for all travel and accommodation costs and make relevant arrangement with members and invited observers. Members and invited observers are eligible to be reimbursed for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, including domestic travel, accommodation costs, motor vehicle allowances and meals. Where out-of-pocket expenses have been incurred, working group members will need to provide a tax receipt for each expense claimed so Fisheries Queensland can organise a reimbursement in accordance with Queensland Government financial policies and procedures.

Meeting Administration


The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries undertakes a Secretariat function, providing all administrative, operational and logistical functions of the Special Working Group. Fisheries Queensland will provide members with an agenda and supporting information 7 days prior to each meeting. This is to provide time for members to review supporting information ahead of the meeting.

The secretariat will record meeting outcomes, and a summary of the meeting is to be agreed at the close of each meeting to enable a communiqué to be made publicly available. The Secretariat will provide more detailed minutes to members following the meeting, which will be endorsed at the following meeting.


The Special Working Group may establish a sub-committee. Such groups will address specific issues which may arise from time to time to assist the special working group. Such groups may also include co-opted experts in relevant fields to work with the seconded special working group member/s to enable best possible advice to be provided to the Special Working Group.


To support appointed, local government and supporting members, the Secretariat will provide new members with the following:

  • Terms of Reference
  • Background information:
    • Innovation and Business Focus
    • Government priorities
    • A work program for the special working group
  • Summaries of the last 2 meetings
  • A copy of the Conflict of interest register
  • A list of current Special Working Group members

If required an information session may be provided for new members. This session may be organised by the Secretariat and may include a combination of existing Special Working Group members and key departmental staff.


Membership requires a commitment to attend meetings and carry out all aspects of the Special Working Group role. The use of proxies will not be endorsed.


A review of the Special Working Group will be undertaken annually. The review will consider any changes to membership or procedures that may need to occur in the subsequent 12 months. The review may be a self-assessment activity or included in the scope of an independent assurance review.