Tennant Creek Town Council opens up real job opportunities in the community 


A new pilot program developed by the Tennant Creek Council, in partnership with a number of other organisations across the community, is providing employment and training opportunities for Indigenous people in Tennant Creek.

Under the pilot program twelve Indigenous men are undertaking 18-months full-time employment as trainees with the Tennant Creek Town Council.

Louise Riddell, manager of organisational development at Tennant Creek Town Council, said the traineeship program is about providing on-the-job training in a ‘real’ work environment and then coupling this with structured training and education.

‘Through this program, the Council is making a commitment to providing real work opportunities for Indigenous people in Tennant Creek,’ she said.

‘The traineeships offer employment in a real job context – they work normal full-time hours, under normal work conditions with normal pay conditions,’ said Ms Riddell

The program is administered under a shared responsibility agreement (SRA),  which includes the Tennant Creek Town Council, the Indigenous Coordination Centre (ICC) at Tennant Creek and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR). 

A SRA is voluntary agreement between government and Indigenous communities to address priorities identified by Indigenous people and the communities.

Charles Darwin University (CDU), Papulu Apparr Kari (Language Centre), Julalikari Council, Alpurrurulam Council and two Job Network providers – Julalikari Remote Employement Services (JRES) and ITEC Employment are partnering with the Tennant Creek Town Council, ICC and DEWR to deliver the various elements of the program.

CDU lecturer Bob Piper, who taught skills in correctly operating outdoor equipment and workplace safety as part of the program, said it was great to be working with all these organisations in delivering such a worthwhile program.

‘It’s fantastic that we have been able to work with the Council and others to put together some of the structured training and educational elements of the traineeships,’ he said. ‘The trainees are really keen and willing to have a go.’

Ms Riddell from the Town Council said as this is the first program of its kind for any local council across Australia; it has taken considerable time and effort to pull together.

‘The idea for the program came from previous Tennant Creeks Mayor, Rod Swanson,’ she said, ‘and has involved considerable restructuring of the council’s workforce operations.

‘The Council’s personnel and workplace policies needed to be updated to include cultural considerations for the workers, as well as restructuring of the council’s working team structures to accommodate the supervisory and leading hand requirements of the traineeships.

'I believe this is the first time such a program has been run in local government and it has been a learning curve for all involved,' she said.

Developing pride and highlighting success was an important part of the program. Louise said many of the men had never worked a regular job, so the training included the basics of punctuality, consistency and basic work values.

'These are not kids out of school but adult men who have never been in that work pattern so it's an important program,' she said. 'But with the support of the local community and council and their enthusiasm, we’re confident we’ll see some positive results.'