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David Clarke

CEO, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council

“We’re working to build our people, along with our infrastructure, and so our focus is on supporting professional development, personal development, small business development.

It’s all about growing our endemic assets, that is, the talents we already have here.

It’s a biodiversity hotspot, a beautiful environment with many animals and plants unique to this area. And then we have the overlay of culture, which is equally unique, and a community that is very proud of who they are and where they come from.  It is a very important to our people that they manage their country properly and to see that any business activity matches in with the traditional frameworks and ethos. 

Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council is ever conscious of keeping the conversation constantly flowing with our traditional owners to ensure we do nothing to disrupt that balance between cultural obligation and development.  

Tourism is our next great challenge, and we’re positioning ourselves well, and the challenge for the next ten years is how we manage the impact of tourism, including increased traffic levels, with improvements in roads.   We are looking at how best to manage the increasing tourist traffic and the commercial options that may bring.  To this end, Council is considering framing its own by-laws to ensure future development is in harmony with the views and wishes of the traditional landowners so that any impact is based on need rather than greed.  We have to manage that impact, particularly in any extractive activity, such as fishing, hunting and so on.  It’s very important future generations are catered for. 

Council partners with traditional owners and native title holders by using our by-laws and drafting special conditions in our by-laws that aid and abet the wishes of the traditional owners in the way they want to manage their country.

As CEO of the Lockhart River Aboriginal Council, it is my duty to see the wishes of the Council are progressed.  To achieve that, we work very harmoniously, in constant conversation about how we actually deploy the policy positions that the Council has put forward.  Goals and objectives give us incentive and instruction as to what grant funding to pursue, and the delivery model we employ to make optimum use of local talent and exploit professional personal and business opportunities. Council provides the ideas and the administration are the implementers of those ideas, and in doing so, we are in constant conversation with the elected arm.

Being a small team, we’re quite ‘nimble’, for example, if we’re not getting it quite right, then we can react quickly.  Also, leadership team has the right mindset and we react to instruction and change quickly and economically. 

We are almost ferocious in our determination to grow the next generation of Lockhart kids into employment, not just on the tools, but in administration too. 

Our own Mayor was originally a CEO; that’s why he has such a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the Council and of the administrative team.   So the relationship is vibrant, conducive to good practice,  and by that I mean attracting optimum benefit from investment opportunities that come our way, and that involves a lot of hard work behind the scenes. Whether it’s building a house, a  road, a water park, whatever it is, we aim to complete the works ourselves as far as possible, so that our boys and girls are all getting lifted up by the process.  

That’s where we need to be.  In 20 years’ time, everyone needs to be playing their role in this town.  Each family could be running their own business.  There will be many tourists, bringing many opportunities.  We need to be able to stand on our own two feet. 

Economically, we’re really pleased with our development over the past four to five years. We’ve gone from 3% to 38% self generated revenue;  in other words we’re out there making money to put back into our town.  We can build water parks, we can send dancers to Laura, and the Commonwealth Games, Thursday Island and so on. We’re investing in our own people, investing in training we self fund; we have our successful school holiday work program; we can buy the latest equipment, the tools of trade that will provide our people with access to the next generation delivery models; we can invest in training outside and within our community. 

Now we have seven trained apprentices – I think that’s a record.  We want to keep our good news stories and capacity building stories rolling.  We have a lot of talent here and we’re doing everything in our power to harness and enhance it.

All those kids playing football; they don’t all get to A grade.  It’s not because they haven’t got the talent, but they need to focus.  You need a mix of talent and focus to get to the top of the tree, and I know we have that here.”

David Clarke

CEO, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council

Contact Details

Cairns Office

Phone:  07 4031 0155
Fax:  07 4031 5720
Address:  7 Anderson St , Manunda QLD 4870

Contact Details

Lockhart River Office

Phone: 07 4060 7144
Fax: 07 4060 7139
Address: Maathuy Street, Lockhart River QLD 4892