The team at Ayers Rock Resort is thrilled to announce that Marcellus Ah Kit, a member of our Sails in the Desert culinary team, was recently named Apprentice/Trainee of the Year during the NT Hospitality Awards gala, taking place on 19 May in Darwin. 

His award was one of three picked up by Voyages – Sails in the Desert also won Best Superior Accommodation, and Ayers Rock Resort received the coveted Best Tourism Initiative award. Not only do these titles speak to the excellent experience offered to guests at Ayers Rock Resort, but also to the depth and value of Voyages’ Indigenous employment programs. Read on to learn more about Marcellus’ award, as well as NITA and the focus on Indigenous employment, engagement, and community support at Ayers Rock Resort. 


How has Marcellus’ career progressed since coming to Ayers Rock Resort?

Marcellus arrived at Ayers Rock Resort in 2017 to obtain a Certificate III in Hospitality offered through our National Indigenous Training Academy. He entered the program with a keen interest in working with food, but no previous experience in food and beverage – just a desire to learn as much as possible and do a great job. 

“It was a great opportunity for me to watch, learn and help me decide that I do want to work in a kitchen as a chef in the future,” Marcellus says of his early days at the resort.

After completing the first year of his apprenticeship with flying colours, Marcellus was thrilled to receive ‘Apprentice of the Year’ from Charles Darwin University for 2019. He was also a valuable member of Desert Gardens Hotel’s Arnguli Grill Restaurant, contributing to the achievement of the Hospitality NT Gold plate award for Best Hotel Restaurant in 2019.

Marcellus is now pursuing his Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, working in the kitchen at Sails in the Desert under the watchful eye of the experienced senior chefs. Marcellus even had the opportunity to work with celebrity chef Hayden Quinn, who was at the Resort recently shooting an episode of the TV program Taste of Australia. Marcellus was asked to assist the famous chef, and handled the situation like a pro. 

Marcellus grew up locally in Alice Springs. His mother was Warlpiri and his father was Warumungu and he grew up learning both his parents’ culture and language. As a child he foraged for native ingredients like bush tomatoes with his family out of tradition – he didn’t realise until he started working for Ayers Rock Resort that these ingredients are now produced at a commercial level. Today, Marcellus loves sharing his culture and heritage through the food he prepares. 


A man in chef's uniform is congratulated by a man in casual dress upon winning an award. Both are smiling.
Three chefs (two male and one female) pose and smile in an industrial kitchen.

What is the National Indigenous Training Academy (NITA)?

NITA aims to “change the lives of Indigenous Australians by providing market-leading training and employment programs and empowering a growing Indigenous workforce” at both Ayers Rock Resort and Mossman Gorge. NITA’s unique training, working, and residential program provides support as trainees participate in the local community, learn life skills, and obtain the training required to kickstart careers in tourism and hospitality. Participants receive accommodation and have access to a dedicated residential and training team on location. 

As an organization, Voyages is committed to providing memorable, enriching experiences to our guests that they would not be able to experience anywhere else in Australia, while supporting, sustaining, and growing our Indigenous workforce through training, employment and economic development. Our aim is to train and develop more Indigenous staff, enabling them to secure employment in the hospitality industry across Australia. In turn, our guests enjoy a more "authentic" Indigenous Australian experience. All profits from Voyages business activities go toward building the resort experience and supporting Indigenous training and employment across Australia.


How many trainees have completed the NITA program? What happens when the traineeship en

To date, more than 500 successful participants have completed their training through NITA, obtaining nationally-recognised qualifications with our partners William Angliss Institute RTO ID 3045 and Charles Darwin University RTO ID 0373. 

Trainees can earn certificates in hospitality, tourism, retail, or horticulture. There are plenty of roles and positions available – working at the resort’s front office, working as a porter, food and beverage opportunities, housekeeping, and leading guided tours. Upon successful completion of the traineeship, many participants continue growing their careers at the Resort. Currently, 44% of the staff at Ayers Rock Resort are Indigenous.  

For Marcellus, NITA opened doors to a fulfilling career in the food and beverage industry. “I have learned so much throughout my traineeship and apprenticeship – from time management skills to perfecting my technical cooking skills and understanding how ingredients complement one another and work together in certain combinations,” he says. “I have also had so much support and guidance from colleagues, mentors and managers since working at Ayers Rock Resort. This really sets you up to succeed.”


What is the criteria to apply to NITA?

In order to be eligible for a NITA traineeship, participants must be ready to start a career in the hospitality, tourism, retail, or horticulture industry – and be committed to live on site for the duration of the program (generally, 12 months). They must be between the ages of 18-25 at the time of commencement and identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. 


Are there openings available now?

Yes! If you’re interested in applying for a NITA traineeship or would like to learn more, please head to our Careers page to view current openings and learn more about the program.