Ever wondered the challenges of doing washing in remote Australia? 

Have you ever needed to wash clothes by hand in a sink or bathtub? Maybe your washing machine was temporarily out of order. Maybe you were backpacking or camping. For many Australians living in remote regions, this can be a permanent reality and the only option. 

Washing machines tend to be unreliable, and they are not easy or affordable to come by.

That’s why Orange Sky is focused on providing reliable laundry solutions for remote communities.

In the north-western NT town of Wadeye, access to laundry services has been an ongoing challenge. Laura Crossfield operates Wadeye’s local safe house, One Tree Community Service, which had limited laundry facilities to support the needs of the community. “People would have to carry their blankets and clothes all the way to our fixed facility, and often there would be five people waiting to use a machine,” Laura said. 

Near the end of 2021, Orange Sky launched a mobile laundry van in Wadeye, marking our fourth remote service. Alongside service partner, Thamarrurr Development Corporation (TDC), we are contributing to improving the social and health outcomes for the community of Wadeye. In addition to free laundry, the Orange Sky service provides employment opportunities and seeks to create a safe space for genuine connection. 

Since the September launch, Wadeye has been one of our most utilised services across Australia. In just under six months, the local team has provided around 1,500 loads of washing and created space for close to 1,000 hours of genuine connection. While the community has been significantly affected by Covid in recent months, TDC have ensured the service could continue operating as often as possible.

Washing is not merely a chore and is much more than a hygiene solution. Laura understands the important role that laundry plays in people’s social and physical wellbeing. “If you’ve got clean clothes, you’re more likely to go to school… there shouldn’t be barriers to people having clean clothes.”

Founded as a mission in 1935, Wadeye has a diverse Aboriginal population from various clan groups. Laura commented that “though Wadeye has a large number of clan groups and families, the Orange Sky van brings everyone together for one common purpose”. The togetherness experienced on shift in Wadeye is an integral part of our service, alongside our local partner, TDC. 

The ‘T’ in TDC, is ‘Thamarrurr’, which means ‘everybody together’. Orange Sky is so grateful to be welcomed into the Wadeye community, to wash, yarn and connect together with TDC and Wadeye residents.