A laundry with a purpose

You may have met Sam Autio through our Remote Laundries project stories or when visiting our Casuarina laundry. Sam is quintessentially the ‘right person for the job’.  Sam’s been with the laundry since it opened in 2020 and he has been instrumental in its success.

His quiet demeanour beneath his towering stature sets the tone for a warm and engaging space, where respect is offered and given in return.

Sam says his favourite part of the job is the interaction with his customers, “They all call me ‘brother’ or ‘old man’ or ‘uncle’,” said Sam.

When Sam first started work at the laundry, he hadn’t been employed for six years. He had been overcoming a functional neurological disorder and work opportunities were no longer available to him. The laundry opening was the new start he had been hoping for.

Sam has overcome many challenges to now be working and step by step is also retraining his brain to be able to again play the guitar, drive and finesse other old skills. Next on his list is to ride a bike again.

“I believe the interaction with people helps. I have noticed a difference since I started to now,” said Sam.

More than a laundry
As a customer drops by to ask for some water, Sam jokes that hydration is part of his job. But in reality, it isn’t a joke – visitors to the laundry are often in need of more than clean clothes. Sam and the team offer a space, a safe space to be, “because quite often street people are unwanted,” Sam said.

“I think the reasons we need the laundry go very deep.

“A guy from Larrakia Nation said something that sticks in my head, ‘You have to be somewhere, you need that place to be a safe place where you are treated well, having a place like that is a good thing’.

“How did we get to this point of such a large population of street people in Darwin? Ultimately you need a long-term solution.

“It is important for customers and important for workers also that organisations like AIG continue to find solutions and opportunities that work.”

Inspiring others
Not only an integral member of the Remote Laundries team Sam now also provides support to the AIG office and recently designed a new label for our Remote Laundries branded water.

“I like doing a job that’s helping people,” said Sam. “And as a father and grandfather, I want to be setting an example to my family. This is much better; I’m always telling them. For a young person – get yourself educated – get a job I say.”