Councillor profiles - Roxanne Kenny President of MacDonnell Regional Council
Vast distances to cover
My council region covers an area the size of Victoria. Part of my role is to attend Local Authority meetings in our 13 remote Aboriginal communities. I also have meetings in Alice Springs, Darwin and Canberra. This involves thousands of kilometres of travel on some rough roads.
Servicing communities across these great distances has its own issues that are not helped by having terrible internet and only a few communities having mobile phone coverage. Despite the difficulties our residents are great people and our workers do a very good job.
Not only do I like travelling through our beautiful country but I love meeting residents in all our communities. Our council region reaches across the MacDonnell Ranges from the Simpson Desert to the Great Sandy Desert and includes many Aboriginal language groups. My first language is Western Arrernte but I speak and understand several languages of the region. While I have family connections in most communities, I enjoy meeting new people and hearing how their lives are going.
Understanding local issues
Previously I was on the community council in Hermannsburg before becoming a councillor when the MacDonnell Council formed 10 years ago. I have been Deputy President since 2012 and after four years my councillors elected me to be their President.
When not travelling for the role of President I enjoy living with my family on our outstation. When together we enjoy hunting in the West Macs or fishing in waterholes along the Finke River.
I grew up in Hermannsburg and have lived here all my life. My councillors and I understand the challenges people face living in remote communities. There is serious overcrowding in their homes and the public housing provided is not good at all. MacDonnell Council works together to make our communities better places to live.
A voice for our youth
One thing we have done is help young people to be heard and better understood. We know our young people are challenged by the differences between our culture and the influences new technologies bring. To help them be better understood and become respected community members, council is introducing Youth Boards so we hear their ideas and help them develop as leaders in their communities.
In the 10 years since being included in the local government family we have brought about great improvements in the lives of our residents. Things like having waste management at national standards and high Indigenous employment in real jobs have been achieved by our continual progress toward well considered goals. My re-election as President says we want to keep going on this path.
Being on the road a lot means being away from home and my family. That is tough. But the toughest part of my work is finding enough money for what we need to do. Everything costs a lot in the bush and our budget is not very big. So we try to do a lot with a little.
The best I can hope for in the future is to keep everything on track. We have made some important changes in our first 10 years. Now we hope we can keep improving our communities and help our residents to have some better living standards.