Ayers Rock Resort struggles to get local staff


p2284-Michael-Parkins-4By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Ayers Rock Resort, owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation, is finding it exceedingly difficult to recruit staff from Central Australia, or retain for its workforce local young people trained at the resort.
There are 280 indigenous employees who make up 34% of the total resort workforce of more than 800.
“We are striving to raise this to 50% by 2018,” says Michael Parkins (pictured), general manager of the resort-based National Indigenous Training Academy.
But only “a handful” are from Central Australia, he says, and “maybe 10 at the most” in the indigenous trainee program are from The Centre.
Mr Parkins was a keynote speaker at the Indigenous Economic Development Forum in Alice Springs this week (delegates posing for a group photo – below – yesterday).
He told the Alice Springs News Online the resort has been “heavily recruiting in the eastern states as of last financial year.
“As of this financial year we will be targeting our recruitment more to the Northern Territory and our neighbouring states because, in a way, we have neglected these states.”
He says “word of mouth” has helped to source staff from the eastern states: “That’s where recruitment has initially started. Word of mouth has given us the numbers and the quality.
“I am very mindful we need a wider cross section.”
Why is there less interest in working in the resort from people in Central Australia, including the Pitjantjatjara Lands?
“We rely heavily on job service providers back in the day, or Job Actives they are now called, to do the screening and assessing to find suitable candidates,” says Mr Parkins.
“We have tried here in Alice Springs but it just hasn’t been successful as we had hoped.
“The connection with the job service providers here in Alice Springs failed. We just didn’t have the suitable numbers or the quality required.
“In terms of our screening and assessment we need certain levels of language literacy and numeracy, and obviously a good attitude, the willingness to relocate from home, four hours down the road.
“One of our new job service providers, Maxx Employment, has opened an office here in Alice in June. We are very hopeful they will be attracting a lot more staff. They are the main providers we’re also using in other states.”
NEWS: Not much traveling is required from Mutitjulu, Imanpa and Docker River. Do you get interest from job seekers there?
PARKINS: Not as much. We mainly focus on our “schools to work experience” program there, provided by our National Indigenous Training Academy. It operates within the resort. Voyages owns the academy. We find that’s a more ideal pathway into the workplace exposure the Ayers Rock Resort can offer to children from local communities.
NEWS: How many young people in that program have actually taken jobs at the resort?
PARKINS: We’ve had at least four who have finished the traineeship program, then returned back to their communities to source a role within education. They didn’t stay with the Ayers Rock Resort. We provided the training for the 12 months, they graduated and due to family obligations had to go back to their communities. They picked up a role back home as a result of the education we provided them. So, for me as an Indigenous person, that’s an outcome for us, anyway, regardless of whether they become an employee of the resort.
NEWS: So they would become a teacher’s aide in their home community, for example.
NEWS: How many students have done Certificate Three?
PARKINS: Last financial year we had 95. The target is 100 per year. The average tenure at the resort after completion is about 14 months, which is higher than for the non-Indigenous workforce which is around 10 months.
NEWS: Where to from there?
PARKINS: We have our “schools to work experience” program and our Certificate Three traineeship program. What we want to pilot, in between those two, is a Certificate One in Tourism taking 12 months that would be Anangu community focussed only, including students from Docker River, Imanpa and Mutitjulu. We believe that’s the next step. It’s a big step to go from schools to work experience to Certificate Three. A Certificate One Traineeship potentially can lead to a Certificate Two and then into our existing Certificate III Traineeship.


  1. I recently had friends from the Central Coast, NSW visit Uluru.
    They told me that speaking with the Indigenous dancers that they too were from the Central Coast! Umm, so much for a genuine cultural experience from Central Australia! What a sham.
    Clearly the locals have little interest (or need) to work and share their culture. A very sad reflection on the situation.
    While the gate receipts provide a new vehicle every six months, and Centrelink remains the major funding source, there is little need to work it appears. Turning out to regular work is just too difficult without a work culture.
    Just hope the Indigenous Economic Development Forum made progress from the mass of delegates I see in the photo. Sadly we see too little progress over the years despite the millions we spend at regular talk-fests.

  2. “Not much traveling is required from Mutitjulu, Imampa and Docker River.”
    Two hundred kilometres from Imanpa to Ayers Rock. A short drive. And its bitumen all the way.
    Docker River to Yulara? A scenic trip that involves travelling over 182 km of dirt. Close to the worst road in the Territory. Ask the grey nomads, they will tell you how good it is!

  3. I would prefer if the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) that own it, either pulled out or went broke.
    They are admirable in trying to get Indigenous workforce and more importantly, local Indigenous people, but it has never worked down at Yulara and never will.
    Somebody, somewhere is propping up the ILC purchase, as they clearly paid too much and need to be seen to being succeeding politically.
    I’m all for helping out marginalised groups but surely there has to be a fair playing field. Why do you think that Yulara has shown a 200% increase in tourism over the last couple of years and Alice Springs is suffering?
    When the experiment is over and all the skulduggery and under the table deals are discovered, we will see a return to normal. Ayers Rock Resort has always been and will always be an over priced, under performing disappointment to all Central Australians.
    How many people do you know that come back and say it represents great value? Especially those unfortunate enough to pay $440 average per night when most of the time for that price you could get the Hilton in Sydney CBD.
    You eventually reap what you sow Ayers Rock Resort, unless you are being helped along the way with funding, tax dodges and the never ending Marketing dollar!
    Comments, please.

  4. A bit of humour if it is permitted: The law of karma = “What goes around, comes around.” For centuries the Europeans races have made the other races work for them for peanuts … it is now the reverse.

  5. Interesting topic, the Employment provider in that region, Anangu Jobs, should have this covered.
    I suppose it depends on whether they are there to help create jobs and support employers and get people from those communities mentioned into real jobs, or in the alternative – big wages and new Toyotas.
    Same old story. Time for a big sweep Senator Scullion 😉

  6. To Mark who states “clearly the locals have little interest (or need) to work and share their culture”: I suggest you go live and work at Yulara.
    Four years did the trick for me.
    The operators of the resort, despite the above article, make it sooooo difficult for the Anangu to be involved in things like the cultural dancing.
    When I left earlier this year, you’ll be pleased to know, the central coast boys had left (on mass due to not being ask to preform at an expo) so the resort management was left in quite an awkward position.
    Find a dance troupe or actually allow the local Anangu to perform. Due to the lack of interest of a non Anangu dance troupe, the resort had to bite its pride and FINALLY allow the Anangu to perform; I know they’d been trying for approx two to three years that I was aware of.
    So before you start bad mouthing a group of people, get the facts. All of the facts. Not just the facts a monopolizing corporation want the world to believe.
    Oh also Mark, having lived there for four years I’d like to know where the “new vehicle every six months” gem comes from because I never saw evidence of this?
    Another stereotypically ignorant racist showing a utter lack of actual knowledge.

  7. To think that everyone who visits the Rock is there to see Aboriginal culture is rubbish.
    There are many people who are NOT interested in such things.
    The Rock is an extraordinary Inselberg and is about 600 millions years old. Aboriginal and modern culture fade into complete insignificance to the actual rock itself.
    As a geology student and naturalist I would like to see a more mature attempt at marketing this great place and in the context of what it really is rather than some fantasy created by humans.

  8. @ Live and Learn: I thank you for your informed views. The media over the past week or two during the celebrations showed many Indigenous gainfully employed from rangers to hotel cleaning staff.
    This was great to see and most encouraging!
    Since you are (or were) on the ground at Yulara for an extended period you may well be in a position to identify why the resort management employs many local staff, but seems to prefer to head off to the east coast for the dancers?
    This would seem a most strange practice unless they had their good reasons. Time will tell if their reluctant decision to (“bite (their) pride”) and turn to local dancers was a wise one.
    I really am tiring of taunts of racism being thrown around whenever criticisms are made of Indigenous.
    For the record, my original post listed mention of a “new” vehicle every six months. The editorial change did change the impression. I stand by my view that purchase of another (if not new) vehicle is a common event each round of royalty / gate payments.

  9. It’s a pity the Alice Springs News Online doesn’t have a “Like” button. If it did I would have gone crazy “liking” the comment from Geo1 from October 28. He’s right. The Rock should be promoted for what it is i.e. 600 million years old. The other stuff comes later.

  10. Hi David of Katherine,
    You are using our “like button”. Thank you.
    It is this comment box, where our readers have their say. Many of them contribute an immense volume of important information.
    Since August 12, 2011 we have published 9857 readers’ comments. We’ll let you know when we hit the 10,000 milestone, some time soon.
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    Kind regards, Erwin Chlanda, Editor.


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