Our mob want this laundry

In the Aboriginal community of Barunga, decisions that affect the whole community are made by its leaders. The Remote Laundries project started in a Bagala Aboriginal Corporation meeting with community leaders in early 2018. The group was looking for ways to boost the local economy and met to decide which business ideas would work best in Barunga. The laundry stood out because it could provide jobs and improve the health of the community. 

AIG was asked to help bring the laundry idea to life and in February 2019 the first Remote Laundries unit arrived in Barunga and was put next to the community store.

Fast forward to today

After nearly two years, the laundry is showing its true colours. Its value to the community is clear by the pride of the people who work there, the high usage of the machines, the absence of vandalism and the conviction of health staff that it is making a difference to the overall health of the community.

It’s time to launch other laundry units in the NT and last week set out with a film crew to document the laundry so other communities, stakeholders, potential corporate sponsors and donors can get a true visual representation of how the laundry works and why the people of Barunga value it. 

Barunga Remote Laundries
Freddie Scrubby has been working at the laundry since it started

Talking came first, filming came second

For three days we were in Barunga talking to Traditional Owners, community leaders, people who work at the laundry, people who use the laundry, school teachers, school students and health staff about their involvement with the laundry.

We wanted to capture the real story, told in the words of the people who use the laundry. We wanted to understand why a community laundry is needed and the everyday challenges that people face in washing their clothes and bedding. It took hours of sitting and talking before the camera was even turned on to build trust and understand the role the laundry has people’s lives.

The people we interviewed wanted to pay it forward, they wanted to be able to help facilitate laundries to be put in other communities because they believe it is a good service that has brought benefit to them. 

Chairperson of the Bagala Aboriginal Corporation Board, Esther Bulumbura

What next?

The film is in the editing room at the moment, but when it’s done, the first step is to have a movie night at Barunga where people can see themselves looking deadly on the screen. Then the serious work begins where we use the film as a tool to start conversations about how to get laundries into other communities.

The Barunga laundry uses a model of government funding, AIG investment, corporate sponsorship, and individual donations. We want to continue tapping into the corporate sector to fund more laundries because it is a worthwhile project that should have the support of the corporate sector looking to give back to Australia.

In the past, a limitation for attracting corporate sponsorship has been the difficulty in demonstrating how the laundry works and the impact on health and social outcomes. We hope this film will be a valuable tool in the facilitating this and helping people to understand how important this project is and why they need to be involved.

Barunga community