The laundry in Angurugu has been running for eight successful months and we’ve learned so much from their unique business model.
When the Angurugu laundry opened back in June last year, it did a whopping 815 cycles in the first month, and demand has remained strong. Support and buy in from the whole community have meant the laundry is seen as a valued service to the community as both a way to wash to wash clothes and a place to work.
Brittany Ciupka, Remote Laundries Program Manager said the team were taken by surprise at the initial popularity of the Angurugu laundry. “We always anticipate a new laundry to start off busy but Angurugu’s first month was still a shock. There had been a lot of build up to the launch with multiple site visits to Barunga and Darwin laundries, and GEAT did an amazing job at keeping the community engaged and excited throughout the entire process.”
Team leaders presents a different design
Angurugu is different from the other laundries in the Remote Laundries project because it’s owned by the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust (GEAT) and managed by AIG. Because of this, GEAT have appointed Miriam Wurrawilya as official team leader to help AIG with matters “on-the-ground”. Miriam’s role is to help inspire and encourage community members to work at the laundry and to use the laundry.
“An important part of the Remote Laundries project is ensuring the community has a voice in the operations” explained Brittany. “Having a team leader helps amplify that voice, which is incredibly helpful when we are managing remotely”.
Delivery service helps with heavy bags
Similar to the laundry in Barunga, Angurugu has a van that picks up clothes at the start of the day and drops them back at the end. In late 2021 and early 2022 the van service really helped to keep the laundry staff busy with washing and to help people reap the health benefits of regular washing in hot water with top quality detergent.
Two staff on each shift
Another difference in the Angurugu laundry is putting on two laundry attendants per shift as opposed to one (as is the case in laundries elsewhere). When asked why the team opted to have two attendants on at the same time, they said it made them feel safe, and made it easier to get through the washing and drying loads especially on the hot days. “We share the workload” said Miriam the Team Leader. “On the hot days we have one person washing and the other one sitting down”.
For the Remote Laundries project’s management team, having the flexibility to identify the best design for each community is a fundamental to the project’s success. “Finding what works at each laundry is an exciting piece of the puzzle” said Brittany. “We see better staffing outcomes when we schedule two people per shift at Angurugu”.
While this works at Angurugu, having two staff on for each shift at other laundries isn’t feasible at this stage. “Wages make up most of our running costs, so unfortunately this isn’t an option at every laundry. GEAT were happy to adopt this model to attract staff and retain them at the laundry.”
School involvement in laundry uniform design
In 2021 the Angurugu School held a design competition with the students to come up with the best design for laundry attendant uniforms. The winning uniform was chosen from the top three designs and has been another way for community to feel involved in the laundry service in their community – not to mention having a great design for the laundry staff.
“The design competition brought excitement about the laundry to some of the younger community members. GEAT has also arranged for a muralist to lead an art workshop in Angurugu with students’ artwork to be installed around the laundry. This was originally scheduled for the launch, but COVID has caused some delays” explained Brittany.
Bickerton laundry is next
GEAT bought three laundries in total for the Groote Eylandt region, and Bickerton Island is the next community to get a laundry. The laundry is currently sitting in Katherine constructed and ready to go, and site preparations are kicking off soon.
When asked if the Angurugu staff had any tips about running the laundry for the Bickerton mob, they said the laundry was a good, and the community should be happy to have a new laundry, and for them to use it!