About Iama (Yam Island)


Iama (Yam) Island is situated in the central island group of the Torres Strait. The island is located approximately 100km north-west of Thursday Island, and is around 2km2 in size. 


The people of Iama speak the Kulkalgau Ya language, which is a dialect of the western-central Torres Strait language, Kala Lagau Ya. Assistance may be required for complainants, witnesses, victims and defendants who come before the court.

History of Iama

Iama facts and figures

For 2011 and 2016 census information on education, employment, income, housing figures and more for Iama, build a statistical profile on Know Your Community.

Native title information

Search for native title information on the National Native Title Tribunal website.

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Visiting Iama

Iama Island is part of the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC). The TSIRC asks all visitors to Iama Island to register their visit before they arrive. It is also recommended that visitors read the TSIRC's information on culture, protocols and heritage.

Getting to Iama

Iama can be accessed by air or boat. The island has a small all-weather airstrip located close to the township, and there are regular flights from Horn Island to Iama. 

Seasonal considerations

The wet season in the Torres Strait starts around October and ends in April-May. The region may be subject to cyclones during this time.

Quarantine restrictions

When visiting the Torres Strait you need to observe the quarantine regulations. It is against the law to move plant and animal material, including fruit, from the Torres Strait to the mainland.

For more information visit the Australian interstate quarantine website

Alcohol restrictions

There are no alcohol management plans for islands in the Torres Strait. Please check with the local council as some island communities may have preferred protocols in relation to the consumption of alcohol. 

Local government

Search the local government directory for information about the Torres Strait Island Regional Council. 

Who to contact if you have questions about your visit

Sorry business and sad news

When there is a death in the Iama community an elder, a local priest or councillor will take responsibility for announcing the Sad News to the family. On this day, and on the day of the funeral, the community will shut down.

The Marigeth [Mari-get], or female and male in-laws, play an important role during this period as they are tasked with organising meals and the funeral and ensuring that family and community members are safely supported. The community will gather together daily to comfort and support each other until the day of the funeral.

After the funeral, a feast is held to conclude the initial stage of the mourning period. The term used for a wake in the central islands is Thoerbaw-Ay [Thur-bow Ya].

Business does not take place during this period; however, this does not apply to essential services such as policing, health, education, child safety and justice.

For Torres Strait Islander cultures, the Tombstone Openings are a time for celebration and symbolise the point that brings closure for the family of the deceased through the celebration of the person's life. There is a lengthy mourning process from the time of the person's death, culminating with the unveiling of the tombstone ceremony, which is followed by feasting and dancing. This process usually takes place about 1 or 2 years after the funeral; however, some families may take longer to prepare for this event.

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Community justice group

The role of the Community Justice Group (CJG) is to ensure that clients of the service are given appropriate cultural support for court matters. The CJG also provides cultural reports to the courts at sentencing and bail applications, assistance to the courts in managing community-based offences, and networking to implement crime prevention initiatives.

Members of the CJG work closely with a number of justice agencies including the Queensland Magistrates Court, Department of Corrective Services, Queensland Police Service, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. The CJG works to support the community’s understanding of and access to the justice system by working in conjunction with Shire Council by-laws and victim support agencies.

Key ways the CJG is able to assist the community and the courts include:

  • participation in community consultations relevant to the CJG’s role within the criminal justice sector
  • preparation and presentation of written and oral sentencing submissions to the court
  • defendant support and referral (including court support)
  • victim support and referral (including court support)
  • support for debtors wishing to access the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry.

For more information about your local Community Justice Group:

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Community services

Use the Queensland Government's one place service directory to find up-to-date contact information for local support services including:

  • legal advice and support services
  • youth justice and support groups
  • domestic and family violence support
  • drug and alcohol services
  • mens' and women's groups
  • accident, emergency and medical services

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More information


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