A magnificent landscape of opportunity

Author: Careers at Council

Read time: 5 min read

Covering a vast 282 square kilometres, and serving nine remote Aboriginal communities, the Central Desert Regional Council is creating a transformative workforce, empowering its residents to take control of their lives and their future. Everything it does is underpinned by its dedication to community, its belief in the power of Indigenous leadership, and the importance of connection through diversity.

In a recent interview with the Central Desert Regional Council’s HR Manager – Debby Helfrich, and Director of Corporate Services – Rachel Wilson, we discover the remarkable initiatives undertaken by council and the truly unique experiences that come with working in this breath-taking location.

A workforce aligned with community and cultural needs

The Central Desert Regional Council’s workforce currently comprises 345 employees – with 74% of employees identifying as Indigenous. In the last six months the council has made a conscious transition toward casual employment with casual staff numbers growing from 16 to 160 since October.

Rachel Wilson comments, “A big drive in our strategic plan is around ‘livability and employability.’ We found that people in our communities did not necessarily want a 38 hour per week job. They would rather come in and just do the once-a-week rubbish runs, for example.”

This shift also supports the communities’ cultural needs. Debby Helfrich explains, “We know that our residents can go away for periods of time on cultural business – they have many family and cultural obligations. So having these large casual talent pools, means we can draw from them to fill in and run the programs and services where and when we need it.” Debby adds, “It’s a win for the community. Residents can get work when they want it, and take time away when they need to.”

Council programs across Youth, Sport and Recreation services have also made the shift to a more causal model, enabling support workers to be rostered on to programs as and when they are needed.

Diverse opportunities and unique experiences

Living and working in this incredible location comes with its unique rewards. The remote setting offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Rachel points out, “You have red dirt roads, endless blue skies, and peace in the bush. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can just escape and reconnect with what matters.”

Central Desert Regional Council offers a wide range of roles – from the many operational roles in their head office in Alice Springs, to the core council services such as municipal services which includes waste management, maintenance and upgrade of parks, reserves and open spaces, weed control and fire hazard reduction and much more; and community services including aged care, children’s services and libraries, youth sport and recreation, community safety, and CDP.

The council has also recently successfully tendered for the remote repair and maintenance of community housing, leading to a need for mobile repair and maintenance handy-people. Rachel explains, “Most of the housing in our communities is owned by Government – so all of the repair and maintenance requests are undertaken by council’s mobile repair and maintenance people.” She adds, “We find it’s a really good connection, we’re the first layer of government and we’ve already got teams on the ground including a remote roading team of handypeople who can also go into these communities and help out where needed.”

The appeal of this location extends beyond its breathtaking natural beauty. It’s an opportunity to experience a completely unique way of life, culture, and location that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Debby comments, “Here, you’ll find job satisfaction in knowing that you’re making a massive difference in the lives of people in remote communities – there’s nothing else like it!”

A recent cultural survey at the Central Desert Regional Council confirmed a deeply connected workplace culture. Rachel elaborates, “People feel connected with what they do here. That’s one of the key drivers of why people come to council.”


Empowering through employment

Initiatives to create community employability are at the heart of the council’s strategic plan. They understand that employment opportunities are essential to combat social issues and retain population in remote areas.

The council’s contracts for remote repairs and maintenance for community housing are an example of creating employment and providing critical services. The council has also recently had funding approved to reopen two childcare centres in January 2024, emphasizing the importance of early childhood education for children, and employability for women in the community.

There is a commitment to continue exploring new initiatives to foster job opportunities and community development – such as opening a new library and trialling a laundry facility to service the needs of mine workers from nearby mines and provide employment for residents.

Inspiring Indigenous leadership

The council is committed to creating pathways for Indigenous leadership. Rachel comments, “We’re turning the conversation around to inspire our Indigenous people to realise they can do these leadership roles. We’ve got some really good examples of where the Indigenous employees have started off as support workers and now, they’re the council services coordinators.” She adds, “The goal is to nurture their growth within the organisation through training and development.”

This year the Central Desert Regional Council hosted a professional development event at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, inviting employees from all of their communities. A first for council, this event was not just about presentations and workshops but also about breaking down the physical distances that come with operating over a vast area. As Rachel explains, “We all work for the same organisation and have the same goals, but connection can be hard because of the distances involved.”

The staff forum featured tailored presentations from speakers, including an ex-AFL player, Michael McClean, an Aboriginal Leadership program, and a performance by the ‘Hip Hop Mob.’ Rachel describes the impact of this event, saying, “The comments were amazing – our community members were telling us that they’ve never been treated like professionals before, never valued like this. They felt so privileged.”


Embracing this awe-inspiring, challenging location

For those looking to escape the city life and immerse themselves in the extraordinary, the Central Desert Regional Council offers a chance to connect with nature, experience the rich and fascinating local culture, and find fulfilment in making a real impact on the lives of Indigenous communities.

In a world that often feels disconnected, this remote location offers an unparalleled sense of peace and magnificence for those who choose to work and live here. It’s a reminder that, sometimes, the most profound connections can be found in the most unique of places.


Are you inspired to make a meaningful difference and embrace unique, life-changing experiences? Check out the Central Desert Regional Council’s current opportunities here.

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