Proof our Remote Laundries project is reducing scabies

In 2019 the first Remote Laundries project laundry was installed in the remote Aboriginal community of Barunga in the NT and cases of scabies have been falling ever since. The data from 2021 shows a 60% drop in the number of cases, and we’re thrilled to see proof our laundries are working!

Why scabies?

Scabies is a parasite responsible for serious illness in Aboriginal communities throughout the NT. Tragically scabies effects children most, so slowing the lifelong damage caused by the mite, including rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease, is a vital step in better health outcomes for the next generation.

Washing with the correct detergent, hot temperatures and hot drying kills the scabies mite and eggs which slows the spread of the parasite and ultimately leads to less primary disease in community.

More than just health benefits

In 2020 we started looking at how to demonstrate the long term financial benefits of investing in a laundry. We engaged the Melbourne Business School and KPMG to develop an economic model of our project.  We wanted to know what the overall saving for the Commonwealth Government would be with reduced disease, increased employment, and a better quality of life in the communities where Remote Laundries were operational.   

Our figures look like this:

  • Savings in treatment costs for medical issues like scabies for a single laundry in community over five years is $247,087
  • Savings in preventing chronic diseases related to scabies for a single laundry in a community over five years is $3.9 million
  • Savings in unemployment costs like Jobkeeper payments through job creation for a single laundry in a community over five years is $339,503.

If we deduct the cost of the building and running the laundry, the savings to government from just one laundry over five years would be $3.79 million!!

More laundries to come

The latest scabies figures for Barunga clearly show the importance of access to reliable washing machines and dryers in Aboriginal communities. Sometimes the simplest solutions have the greatest impact, and we believe our laundries are one such solution that can be implemented widely, and the health and economic gains in the mid and long term are well worth the investment.

The Remote Laundries project is now operating in Barunga, Darwin and Angurugu, with five more laundries scheduled to launch across the Northern Territory in the next financial year.

Remote Laundries project is managed by Aboriginal Investment Group and the Barunga laundry is currently funded as part of the Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NT PHN) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Health program.