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Cr Wayne Butcher

Mayor, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council

Councillor Wayne Butcher is in his second term as Mayor of Lockhart River Community Council.  Under his inspiring leadership, there is a tangible positive and cohesive atmosphere prevailing, as Mayor Wayne and his Council successfully steer the community towards long term sustainability and ownership of its future.

“At Lockhart Shire Council we are focusing on building strong leadership within the Shire’s different areas of local government as a foundation for a sustainable future. This strong leadership is being rolled out throughout the different facets of the community, infrastructure, health and education, youth, sports, language, culture and arts to build the social fabric of Lockhart River and our future.

The more leaders we have throughout the community in general, the better chance we have of addressing some of our challenges. We’ll never fix all our problems, but any improvement is a step forward.

We’re not a rates based shire, so we are working towards attracting investment. By building roads and houses, major infrastructures in the community, we are introducing the younger generation into a capacity building process starting from high school, supporting them into employment pathway within our community.

One of our strategies has been to offer paid work experience, starting with Year 11 and 12 students, but we have extended that to Year 10. In the holidays they can work anywhere in Council – building houses, in civil construction, mechanical shed, stores, administration, even at the airport. Our kids in that age group are starting to think about leaving school and getting their feelers out to see where their interests lie. It gives them a little bit of pocket money and a taste of employment.

We’ve been doing this for about three years now, offering opportunity wherever there are positions, and now we have some apprentice carpenters who have come through that inhouse youth employment initiative. We look at it as a long term strategy, bringing new blood into the Council.

You can get an education, but you also have to have a work ethic, it’s two different things, and they are both as important as the other.

We’re not a ratepayers’ shire because of land tenure, so our biggest achievement is to build a local economy We’ve built trust within the government and then restructured our organisation.

Six years ago the government had outside contractors building roads and houses. Now all the investment comes through the local Shire and we have a delivery methodology that’s suitable for the community. We build capacity, we keep the dollars in the community and we build small businesses within the community. Five years ago there would be five white contractors and one local trade assistant, now we have one mentor tradesman from outside and five apprentices. We’re very proud of our first graduated apprentice, who has build and now lives in his home. Even though he rents it, he built it, so its like his own home. When you talk about capacity building, these are the small steps we need to celebrate, like seeing our own apprentices forming the majority of tradespeople on a building site, or applauding our first graduating apprentice, who has built his own home here at Lockhart River.

In just four years, we have gone from two 100% indigenous owned Lockhart businesses with machinery to seven, and now you have a whole cooperative of small business owners who have formed a civil construction team who are our preferred suppliers on the Council list. As they are local and going to be judged on their work every day, their standard is way above average.

If you want to build a community, you must build people first.

The most satisfying aspect of leadership for me is giving other people the opportunity to lead, and the whole capacity building process is very rewarding.

At Lockhart River Community Council, we use the crawl, walk, run strategy. Over the last five years, we had five houses allocated to Lockhart very year. We succeeded in building two houses in the first year, three the next then the following two years we built five in each year. We want to see these young apprentice tradies have the opportunity to own their own business down the track.

The changes people see are only the tip of the iceberg. There’s always a lot going on behind the scenes, lobbying state and federal governments to build their confidence that the Lockhart River community has the ability and capacity to build some of their programs. That has been a challenge, which is why we went back to the crawl, walk, run process. Now we not only build new houses, we manage minor repairs like re-roofing, fencing, driveways, kitchen replacements, in fact entire housing packages within Lockhart.

We have to run it as a business, because you’re not generating any revenue in any other way, so that’s how we subsidise and grow the Council.

My message to the wonderful people who comprise this community:

Take on responsibility, no matter where or what it is, take it on. Set an example to your kids, as they are our future.

Everything starts at home, so focus on your own home. You need to have responsibility for your home before anything. Make sure health and education are your priorities for your children. If you don’t have healthy children, they can’t go to school to get educated. Those are the fundamentals you have to have in place first. Don’t worry what the guy across the road is doing, focus on yourself and your family, your household. That’s where your life begins.”

Cr Wayne Butcher

Mayor, 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