In a remote Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, 29-year-old Randyn Kitchener has found the support he needs and turned his life around to help others.
Randyn lives in Kowanyama on the far west coast of the expansive unspoilt wilderness of Cape York Peninsula.
Perched on the banks of Magnificent Creek, which joins the South Mitchell River, Kowanyama means ‘place of many waters’ in the local Yir Yoront language and is recognised for its unique and ecologically diverse wetlands and delta mangroves.
The Traditional Owners of this region are the Kokoberra, Yir Yoront (or Kokomenjen) and Kunjen clans.
With a population of more than 1000, Kowanyama is now one of the largest communities on the Cape York Pensinsula.
But at 600kms northwest of Cairns, it remains an isolated part of Australia, where finding support can sometimes be difficult.
For Randyn, who is Kokomenjen and lives with an acquired brain injury, it has been a long and challenging journey.
But early last year, with help from the Kowanyama Remote Community Connectors (RCC) team, Randyn joined the NDIS and began receiving dedicated therapeutic supports, which have dramatically improved his quality of life.
“Without the support of the RCC Team, I wouldn’t have been able to access the NDIS,” said Randyn. “And it has really helped improve my life.”
Today, Randyn says his life has purpose and he sees a positive future for himself.
He volunteers his time at Kowanyama’s Aged Care Centre and works with a group of men who maintain lawns for the older members of their community.
Randyn’s life has transformed since joining the NDIS through the RCC program, which helps people in remote parts of Australia to understand and access the Scheme.
After being seriously injured in a car accident 12 years ago, Randyn spent time in ICU and needed multiple surgeries.
When he finally emerged from hospital, Randyn’s recovery was slow and his rehabilitation was challenging. Without adequate supports, he found himself on the wrong side of the justice system and his future was looking grim.
But when Randyn joined the NDIS, his life took a turn in a very different direction.
He began to receive regular mental health, physical therapy and occupational therapy supports, which have all helped to improve his health and grow his everyday skills.
Now, Randyn spends his time as a valuable member of his community.
He says volunteering at Kowanyama’s Aged Care Centre and helping older members of his community has given him a new purpose in life and “a reason to get up every day”.
Randyn says he feels positive about his future and has set some short-term goals with the disability support team.
He hopes to once again run out onto the paddock to join his Kowanyama brothers in a game of Rugby League.
Randyn also hopes to obtain his driver’s licence and find a fulltime job in community.