The Remote Laundries project
A public laundry with washing machines and dryers that work, power and hot water that is reliable and detergent that never runs out is a practical way to improve the health of the community.
- Eight out of 10 Aboriginal babies who live remotely will get scabies before their first birthday.
- Skin infections caused by itching the scabies mite leads to serious diseases like staph infections, kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease.
- Overcrowding effects over half the Aboriginal population living in government managed housing. The more remote the worse the issue. Overcrowding sits at the centre of bacteria and scabies outbreaks.
- Limited access to hot water, electricity and detergent supplies exacerbate health issues.
Started as a pilot
In 2018 Aboriginal Investment Group started to design our first laundry and negotiate with the community of Barunga (80km SE of Katherine) through the Bagala Aboriginal Corporation about the how the laundry would operate in their community. In February 2019 we opened our first laundry as a pilot and gave ourselves 12 months to watch, learn, try new things and eventually settle on a model that could be applied in other communities.
Key lessons learned:
- Charging for washing and drying was too much of a barrier and negatively affected laundry use.
- Employing locals was mandatory for important community buy in.
- Laundry operation automation made remote management of the laundry possible.
- Project supporters and financial partners are needed to cover the ongoing laundry operation costs.
During the pilot period we learned lots about the best design not only for the conditions but also for the workers.
Today our design is patented and we’ve come a long way from our first laundry.
Each standard unit has a hydraulic arm that opens and securely closes the 20 foot shipping container which houses four washers, four dryers, a sorting bench and separate automated chemical room.
We’ve improved the ergonomics of the machines so they can be cleaned from the back of unit making it easier for the workers to maintain the machines.
All units are still transportable which is makes the set up easier for remote locations.
Partners and supporters are key to our project success
Laundry costs are divided into two sections: the setup costs and the ongoing costs. Its costs $225,000 to set up a new unit which includes the build, setup and staff training. The ongoing costs are $105,000 per annum per unit which includes laundry staff wages, chemicals, maintenance, power, water and internet.
The Remote Laundries Project needs supporters and financial partners to help cover the ongoing costs, and our partnerships are growing.
Partners: amazing organisations that have a contractual agreement with Remote Laundries to donate a defined amount in a defined time.