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New laundries on Groote Eylandt

From the start of the Remote Laundries project, it was part of the plan that other laundries will be built in the Top End of the NT. The Barunga laundry is the first but we aim to have at least eight laundries spread throughout the Top End.

We are pleased to announce three laundries opening on Groote Eylandt with the first laundry set to be delivered to Angurugu in December. Two other laundries for the communities of Umbakumba and Bickerton are scheduled to arrive early in the new year. Each of the laundries will have four commercial washers and dryers.

Laundries are an asset for communities

The model for the laundries on Groote Eylandt will be a bit different for AIG because the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust (GEAT) will own their laundries, and AIG will provide management support  

“In the past we have owned and managed the laundry unit, but in the case of Groote Eylandt, AIG will not own the laundries, we will just manage them. I look forward to working with this model to see if it can be applied elsewhere in the Top End. Ideally a community should own their laundry and treat it as an asset for creating jobs and massive social outcomes” Steve Smith, AIG CEO.

Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust keen to try a new washing approach

A model used throughout the NT and on Groote Eylandt is buying domestic grade washing machines and allocating them per household. While this system looks good in theory, the practice isn’t quite as straightforward for two reasons.

An ongoing issue for GEAT has been fixing machines when they break. In the past they have provided machines to households and fixed them when they break. This approach has proven to be largely ineffective and very expensive.

The second challenge is detergent supply. Our consultation with communities has shown it’s hard for families to keep up with demand for washing detergent.

Our Remote Laundries provide a public facility where the machines run well, they are broken when fixed and the detergent and sanitiser are top quality and never run out. For these reasons we believe our approach will have more success in the long run.

Another important benefit of our laundry is the size of the machines. Unlike domestic washing machines, our big 10kg industrial machines can handle washing and drying big blankets which is important in fight against scabies and bacteria.

“Sure, its easier to wash clothes at home than take them to a laundry, but reliability and accessibility are huge barriers to overcome in remote communities and our laundry model can do that” Steve Smith, AIG CEO.

Community consultation in Angurugu about the new laundry due to open in December

Barunga laundry has been a good model for others

Since the Barunga laundry opened, GEAT have been interested our approach and have sought out AIG to install help laundries for them to try a new approach to improving health prospects through washing.

At this stage the laundries will be run the same as in Barunga where locals are employed to supervise the laundry and help people to wash their clothes as well as work with the community to extend the services of the laundry to important groups like schools, clinics and aged care.

Negotiations with GEAT started at the beginning of 2020 and its been exciting to see the laundries getting closer to being installed.

The laundries in the Groote Eylandy communities will look and fuctions similar to the Barunga laundry.

Mini laundry for training

We are currently looking at a new and interesting approach with the Angurugu School  to set up a mini laundry in the school aimed at training the students in operating a small business.

The mini laundry will have two commercial washers and dryers where students can learn about the costs of running a small business and project management skills involved. On a practicable level, students can bring their clothes to be washed. 

For more information

To find out more information about laundries on Groote Eylandt you can contact GEAT on  08 8987 7800 or  the AIG office on  08 8922 2666.