Steve Smith, our CEO is calling on corporates to help us improve health in Aboriginal communities.
Last week Steve was been back in the limelight talking on the ABC Darwin radio Drive program about our Remote Laundries project.
There are a couple of reasons which prompted media interest. The first is that our public laundry in Barunga is one year old. Happy Birthday to us! Our pilot project was launched in Barunga to test and monitor the laundry and make sure we have the best model possible before offering other communities the option for a public laundry. Our goal is to create seven laundries in seven different Top End communities.
The other reason was to talk about why laundries are needed in the first place. We have all long known there are very serious health issues like rheumatic heart disease and scabies that plague people living in Aboriginal communities. It’s a blight on Australia’s health record that we have people who are sick with diseases only seen in very poor countries with ineffective health systems.
Overcrowding makes people sick
Overcrowding and the health issues that go with obscene numbers of people are living in the same house are making people sick. The scabies mite thrives when lots of people live in close proximity in the tropics. It’s hard to imagine, but the tiny scabies mite, which is happiest when burrowed into warm skin (making it very itchy) is responsible for creating the perfect environment for really nasty bacteria like group A Streptococcus to flourish. Strep A is responsible for rheumatic fever which then goes on to cause permanent heart damage called rheumatic heart disease.
Rheumatic heart disease should not be in Australia
This is a very serious disease which kills hundreds of Aboriginal children and young people each year and causes chronic illness in many thousands of others. It doesn’t belong in a country as wealthy as Australia and sadly the Northern Territory has some of the highest rates of rheumatic heart disease in the world. Seven in 10 Aboriginal children in the NT will get scabies at least once before their first birthday. Its isn’t good enough.
Washing is part of the solution
The Remote Laundries project is part of the solution. A public laundry where people can wash and dry their clothes and bedding, where the power and water is reliable and where the detergent never runs out is an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle in finding a solution to the unacceptable health issues in community.
People don’t want to live all squashed in houses with failing amenities and horrible diseases, but there aren’t any other options. Until the housing situation in the Northern Territory is sorted out, we need to put facilities into communities that help. It is a heavy burden to carry and we are only a small Aboriginal corporation; we need a hand.
Calling on capital from corporates
We are calling on corporates that want to be involved in making practical, meaningful changes to people’s lives to get in contact with us so we can start a conversation about how we can work together. We have the design, the team and the experience but we need corporate Australia to bring the capital.
Ring us on 08 8922 2666