CEQ’s origins were manifested from the work of Reverend Fredrick Walker, a former missionary who established Papuan Industries Limited (PIL) in 1904 with the intention of aiding the people of Papua and the Torres Straits.
Stemming from these roots, since 1930 there has been an overseeing body responsible for the government and welfare of Torres Strait Islanders, although changes to legislation or passing of new legislation have changed the identity of the overseeing body through the years.
1930 – Papuan Industries Limited (PIL) becomes Aboriginal Industries Board (AIB)
“On or around” the first of July 1930, PIL was acquired by the Chief Protector on Thursday Island, handing control over to the Queensland Government, and Papuan Industries Limited was renamed the Aboriginal Industries Board (AIB).
The passing of “The Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Acts and Amendment Act of 1934” sought to amend a number of elements in the previous Act. Included in these amendments was the establishment of and carrying on of an Aboriginal Industries Board (AIB). The amendments were Assented on 20th December 1934.
Part of these amendments also stated that the existing Aboriginal Industries Board and their operation under the Chief Protector (previously known as Papuan Industries Limited), discontinue their use of the name “Aboriginal Industries Board,” and the name was adopted by the new board constituted under the amended Act.
1939 – Aboriginal Industries Board (AIB) becomes The Island Industries Board (IIB)
In 1939, “The Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Acts and Amendment Act of 1934” was repealed by the “Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act 1939,” and new legislation was introduced to govern the welfare of the Torres Strait.
“The Torres Strait Islanders Act of 1939” was passed at this time. This was “An Act to Make Provision for the Government of the Native Inhabitants of the Islands of Torres Strait and their Descendants, and for other purposes”, and was Assented on the 12th October 1939.
Continuing to recognise the need for a body to oversee the welfare of Torres Strait Islanders, under the Act the AIB continued its operation under a new identity, The Island Industries Board (IIB).
Both the “Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Acts 1965 – 1967” and the “Torres Strait Act 1971” preserved the function and identity of the IIB.
2016 – The Island Industries Board (IIB) becomes Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ)
On 1st September 2016, under the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (Justice, Land and Other Matters) Act 1984”, Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) was established and carried on the function of the IIB.
On 24 October 2016, under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (Justice, Land and Other Matters) Act 1984, the Queensland Government approved the merger of its state-owned and operated retail stores in six remote Aboriginal communities with the stores under the IIB operations in the Torres Strait.
On 1 May 2017, after extensive consultation with local communities, the merger transferred ownership and management of the remote retail stores from the Queensland Government and Island Industries Board to the new independent body — Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ).
As of 1 July 2020, CEQ operates 28 retail stores supplying essential goods and services throughout the Torres Strait, NPA and remote Aboriginal communities of Northern Queensland.