A meaningful connection: Why Nikki Charlesworth-Canning donates to Remote Laundries

*Note: Images have been edited to de-identify school children. 

Our Remote Laundries project is having a positive impact on the health of families in remote communities.

As a self-funded charity, the Remote Laundries project relies heavily on the generosity of donors. Every dollar counts and is life-changing for families who don’t have access to washing facilities and clean clothes which are crucial to being healthy.

We could not do what we do without the support of individuals, such as Nikki Charlesworth-Canning, who has donated monthly since 2022. Her ongoing donation equates to one year’s worth of electricity for 6 families to receive free washing at a remote laundry.  

Recently, we sat down with Nikki to understand what motivated her to contribute to the Remote Laundries project.

But first, let’s set the scene so you too can see why Nikki believes our Remote Laundries project is a simple solution to a large problem.

The burden of disease in remote Indigenous communities

Scabies is a common problem in remote Aboriginal communities in the NT, where up to 50% of children and 25% of adults are affected.

Overcrowding and poor sanitation in the NT means that remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are more likely to develop skin conditions and infections like scabies. If left untreated, these skin conditions can lead to more serious health concerns in the long-term including rheumatic heart disease (RHD). 98% of people living with RHD in the NT are Indigenous and it’s completely preventable.

Nikki’s why for donating to the Remote Laundries project

Having lived in the NT on and off since her teenage years, and worked as a teacher in remote schools, Nikki knows these statistics intimately.

Nikki’s first teaching position was in Angurugu on Groote Eylandt, NT in the 1970s. Here, she renewed her passion for the NT and met her husband, Neville.

Coincidentally, one of our Remote Laundries is now pride of place in the community.

After moving back to South Australia to be closer to family while they started their own family, Nikki and Neville returned to the NT in the 90s to raise their teenagers.

Once their children had grown up, they felt the call to go remote again, with Nikki taking up a lead teaching position in Numbulwar, on the mainland from Groote Eylandt, followed by a stint in Gunbalanya in West Arnhem Land.

In another coincidence, while at Numbulwar, Nikki mentored the now NT Minister for Health, the Hon Selina Uibo during her early years of teaching.

Nikki while teaching in Numbulwar, NT.
Teaching photography in Gunbalanya, NT.

When Nikki returned to Darwin and prepared to retire from teaching, she felt the need to continue contributing to advancing education opportunities for students and families living in remote NT communities.

She had seen first-hand the impact the lack of washing facilities had on school attendance and the health of the communities where she had worked. When she stumbled across the Remote Laundries project, the connection was obvious to her.

“I feel this is something that can change lives. I have a connection with remote communities and know how things work and know that this project can help not only health outcomes, but it also brings a level of agency through job opportunities,” Nikki said.

Nikki can also see how the Remote Laundries can offer a safe place, particularly the Casuarina laundry where some customers would be long grassing and living rough away from home. 

Thanks for your time, Nikki, and for contributing to our vision to eradicate the 100% preventable rheumatic heart disease in remote NT communities. 

Nikki got involved with the Remote Laundries project for a very simple reason – it is effective and changes lives. We would love to hear from you if you wish to contribute to the project.

You can donate online www.remotelaundries.org.au/donate or chat with our CEO, Elizabeth Morgan-Brett via email elizabeth.morganbrett@aiggroup.org.au or phone (08) 8922 2666.

Numbulwar, NT.