There’s not enough jobs in the Northern Peninsula Area on Queensland’s north-most tip to employ all the locals in the remote communities.
Business is far from booming, and the regional council is the area’s main employer.
There’s a focus on school attendance and education, but for the adults who live here finding work isn’t easy.
Thomas Savage, 45, dropped out of school in year nine and has spent much of his working life as a fisherman.
He’s part of the federal government’s revamped community development program which employs locals for 25 hours a week in return for their welfare payments.
On Thursday, Mr Savage joined dozens of workers fixing up the Injinoo community hall, saying he enjoys the program because it gives him something to look forward to.
“It’s pointing our people in the right direction of getting employment,” he said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and several ministers pitched in, cranking up the concrete mixer and laying down a new path.
Mr Abbott would prefer the locals were employed in real jobs, but he said getting locals active, involved in the community and learning skills is a good start.
“People here, just as anywhere else, can do almost anything if they’ve got a mind to,” he told reporters in Injinoo.
There are more people in Injinoo who rely on welfare than those who are employed, with the labour participation rate at 46 per cent.
The nationwide indigenous rate is 56 per cent compared to the non-indigenous rate of 76 per cent.
The program, locally run by My Pathway, provides incentives for getting people into jobs attached to welfare, and further incentives for finding solid employment.
Parliamentary secretary to the prime minister Alan Tudge said organisers try to identify projects that have an immediate benefit to the community.
“It’s about keeping them active, keeping skills high and in the process contributing to the community,” he told AAP.
After getting his hands dirty, the prime minister officially opened a local GP clinic with Health Minister Sussan Ley.
Patricia Yusia, a director of the Cape York Health Council, said the non-government clinic was about bringing health services into the community to try and allay fears about western medicine.
“We have a lot of death here, and we just want to make sure they’re not scared to approach the doctor,” she told AAP.
“A lot of people are superstitious or they are true believers of their culture.
“We’ll try to work with them and get them to understand what western medicine is.”
The locally-funded facility is a boost for healthcare in the area, but the NPA is still lacking services like a nursing home.
Anyone in need of respite care is shipped off across the ocean to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait.
Injinoo carer at the NPA council-run Home and Community Care program, Joyce Socki, says the elderly people in indigenous communities need to be near their families.
“We need one so when they get old they can be cared for here in their own communities,” she told AAP.