The TSRA is a Commonwealth Authority which was established on 1 July 1994 under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989, now known as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (ATSI Act 2005). It is the leading Commonwealth representative body for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait.
The TSRA consists of an elected arm and an administrative arm. The elected arm is comprised of 20 elected representatives who are Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait region. Up until 2012, seventeen TSRA Members were Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC) Councillors elected under the Local Government Act 1993 (Qld), while three TSRA Members were elected under Division 5 of the ATSI Act 2005 (for the TSC wards).