Sweat beads drip from Randyn Kitchener's face as he rakes leaves in the garden of Kowanyama's aged care centre in 40-degree heat.
But he couldn't be happier.
- NDIS programs only recently arrived in the remote Cape York region
- Locals are accessing new levels of care with a focus on Indigenous cultural needs
- Culture-focused care takes many forms and involves connecting with community and country
It's been a rough decade for Randyn, but he thinks his life has finally turned a corner.
"I feel more independent," he said.
A car crash in 2009 left him with a brain injury and chronic pain; for a while it sent him down a dark path.
"It was letting me down, I was feeling down."
Two years ago, Randyn finally received the help he needed when a specialised support service arrived in the remote Cape York township through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Since then, he's started physical therapy and volunteering at the aged care centre.
A focus on culture
Team leader Ian Brown said cultural needs were central to the disability service.
"It does help a lot; being an Indigenous man myself, I basically already have that connection … and I know what they need culturally."
Mr Brown said reconnecting Randyn with elders and the wider community was just as important as his physical therapy.
"I see huge improvements with Randyn; he's coming to work every day, he loves coming in, helping the old people.
"That wouldn't have been him a year or two ago.
Randyn agreed that the connections he had made had improved his motivation.
"That keeps me going, when I'm speaking to them, that lifts me up in a way too."
Many forms of culturally focused care
Fellow client Arnold Possum's life changed when he returned to his traditional land on Wallaby Island earlier this year.
It was the first time in decades he had set foot on country where he grew up.
"I just said to myself, 'Wow, I'm back again, in my home … where my Dad and my Mum grew up," he said.
"Now, I've seen my homeland, such a beautiful country and I've been overwhelmed."
Arnold made the journey with local Indigenous rangers, including senior ranger Fitzroy Lawrence.
Mr Lawrence said it was the first time the rangers had worked on such a project with the NDIS.
"I saw a lot of joy, a sort of healing process Arnold was going through as we were approaching Wallaby Island," he said.
"I've seen a lot of that in Arnold on that day, just the joy and the happiness he had."
Mr Brown said the transformation in clients was remarkable.
"You do see huge changes; after Arnold going out on country and him coming back into town and his whole perception on everything, it just changed.
"Going back on country … it gets him back on, resets your mind and your body."
He said while funding was always uncertain, he was hopeful many more locals would be able to receive assistance with a similar focus.