NEWS/ ADVOCACY: Remote Laundry Pilot Project Success!

March 8th, 2022

The projects’ success in reducing Scabies reminds us of the importance of ‘HLP2: Washing Clothes and Bedding’.

Community members from Barunga and up to 30km’s away come to use the Laundry.

Recent ABC news article covering the success of AIG’s (Aboriginal Investment Group) Remote Laundry pilot project in Barunga, NT shared important statistics about how common and serious Scabies infections are in children in Indigenous communities:
  • “eight out of 10 children in the Northern Territory are diagnosed with skin sores before their first birthday.”


  • “Rheumatic heart disease (RHD), while preventable and virtually eliminated from the rest of Australia, still affects many young people in remote communities”, which can lead to rheumatic heart disease and kidney problems


  • “Australia’s first Remote Laundries project… has led to a 60 per cent drop in the number of cases of scabies”


From Scabies to Kidney Failure & Rheumatic Heart Disease

Scabies is a skin condition caused by a microscopic mite called sarcoptes scabiei. The mites burrow under the skin and makes skin very itchy, where the scratching causes bacterial infections.

These repeated infections can be associated with inflammation of the kidneys, which increases the risk of kidney failure later in life.

The repeated infection is also associated with inflammation of the heart (acute rheumatic fever) which can lead to permanent heart damage, rheumatic heart disease and heart failure in children and as well as adults.

Children living in overcrowded houses in rural and remote Aboriginal communities are most at risk.


HLP2: Washing Clothes and Bedding

The Guide explains, “Washing of clothes and bedding can help reduce the incidence of infectious diseases, such as diarrhoeal disease, respiratory infections, scabies and other skin infections.”

Regular washing of clothes and bedding with detergent, hot water and using a hot dry cycle helps to remove any bacteria, dirt, fleas, mites and other irritants or infection. Washing and hanging items in UV light further helps break the life cycle and kill bacteria.

As explained by Barunga community member, “we only have a six-kilogram machine… Our blankets don’t fit in that”.

The design of both laundry and drying facilities are very important, and should include functional taps and a spout, a minimum 70L laundry tub, a working waste outlet and drainage, effective floor grading and safe electricals due to the presence of water, to name a few.


The Guide: Laundry Design and Specification (all data can be exported as a reource)


Healthabitat continues to advocate for well designed, quality controlled and maintained clothes washing facilities, both in individual houses and in community washing facilities. This article shows just how closely linked health is with the living environment and the importance of functioning Health Hardware.