Issue 9
Monday, 05 November 2018
Charles Darwin University
Carpentry student Ken Lechleitner supervises the Akaltye Centre renovations
Carpentry student Ken Lechleitner supervises the Akaltye Centre renovations

Tradie uses classroom skills to scale real-world ladder

By Patrick Nelson

Alice Springs builder Ken Lechleitner (Junior) has come full circle, although a pressing workplace deadline allows him little time to reflect on the feat.

For the next few weeks, Ken is supervising the renovation of Charles Darwin University’s Akaltye Centre, which houses staff from the Office of Indigenous Student Support at Alice Springs campus.

It’s a campus that Ken has come to know well over the past three years as he has progressed through the Certificate III in Carpentry course.

“Basically, I’ve learned what I need to know to build a house. Everything from concreting, flooring, roofing, how to make a wall frame, as well as the work, health and safety practices for a building site,” he said.

Ken has been putting that knowledge into practice as an apprentice with Territory boutique building firm Asbuild.

“I’ve learnt a lot from them too,” he said. “When I started with them I didn’t know too much about the building game, but they’ve helped me grow into it; helped me develop a lot of skills.

“I’ve worked on the Hetti Perkins site, the Women’s Shelter and on a seven-house project at Alpurrurulam (also known as Lake Nash, near the NT-Queensland border).

“Now I’m supervising the revamp at CDU. We’ve stripped out the rooms, uplifted the carpet, replaced the double doors and removed the ceiling and an internal wall.

“We’re about to enter the next phase, which will involve fitting new kitchen cabinets, new walls, wiring, pipes and painting. Everything must be done in time for hand over in mid-November.”

While Ken, an Anmatyerre man who was born and educated (mostly) in Alice Springs, is focused on the immediate task at hand, he’s also contemplating future possibilities.

“I’m thinking of doing a Certificate IV in Building. It’s a course that will take me through the business management side of the construction industry: quoting on tenders, plan interpretation, taxation. Eventually I’d like to work in a management position.

“And I’d like to help other Indigenous people; encourage them to get educated. Studying should not be a scary thing to do.”

CDU’s Senior Manager Major Projects Tom Lacey said he was delighted with Asbuild’s confidence to promote Ken to a supervisory level.

“This is an important demonstration of how the University and a local commercial enterprise can work together in support of a young Indigenous man’s real-world progression.”

He said the building was a campus original dating to the mid-1980s and in need of modernising to improve functionality and user friendliness.