Word is out and the level of interest from people wanting to have their own laundry has peaked with Remote Laundries Project staff getting phone calls and emails weekly from communities wanting to know how they can get a laundry.
“There are people who’ve been watching from the sidelines. They were initially interested when the project was launched in Barunga and understandably wanted to wait and see if the model would work” says the AIG CEO Steve Smith. “We are two years in and the people of Barunga and surrounding communities are using the laundry more and more, local staff are still employed, and the laundry has been open 98% of the scheduled opening times. People can see that it works, that it is possible to have a community-based business that provides jobs as well as health gains for the whole community”.
According to Brittany Ciupka, Remote Laundries Project Officer, most of the interest is from communities wanting a similar set up to Barunga. “There are a few communities wealthy enough to buy one outright. But most of them can’t, so AIG will be involved in helping them secure funding for their laundry. This is a service we’ll provide to communities both inside and outside of our regions”.
Cogs of government funding move slowly
The current laundry funding model has three parts: government funding, corporate sponsorship, and public donation. We’ve been very reliant on government funding for the bulk of the money, with sponsorship and donation supplying a top up. A downside to this model is how slowly the government funding cogs turn. Under the current model, we can’t keep up with demand.
“In the next 12 months we’ll launch maybe five or six new laundries throughout the Top End. It’s not as fast as communities would like, but the majority of the delay is tied up in the way money is distributed by the government. We can launch a new laundry in about three months, but the current funding model means communities wait for 18-24 months” explains Brittany.
Aiming for commercial sector funding in the future
“As we grow, we want to achieve a more sustainable and reliable funding model by engaging big corporations” says Brittany. “We know less about the corporate landscape and haven’t had the time to focus on learning it. For us right now it’s like a foreign language, but something we’ll be focussing on heavily in the future. In my opinion, the success of this project depends on it”.
Steve believes the project is ideal for corporate sponsorship. “Our project provides corporates with an opportunity to be a part of positive change for Aboriginal people. It’s well designed and the data we collect means we can prove the worth and value to the community and savings to our government through improved health and social outcomes. We know there is money out there for projects like ours, it’s just a matter of tapping into it”.
For more information about any aspect of the project email Brittany.Ciupka@aiggroup.org.au