Scabies cases drop by 60% in Barunga after Remote Laundries pilot

Scabies cases drop by 60% in Barunga after Remote Laundries pilot
Staff from Remote Laundries, NT PHN and NIAA pose together for a photo in front of the pilot laundry at Barunga.

We play a crucial role in ensuring all Territorians have access to the health services they need. One of the key priorities for us is providing better outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. People living in remote NT face disproportionate hurdles in health and social and emotional wellbeing. One pressing issue faced within remote Aboriginal communities is the prevalence of scabies.

Scabies is a contagious, intensely itchy skin condition caused by microscopic mites that burrow under the skin. It is a massive issue where 50% of Aboriginal children and 25% of adults in these remote communities are infected. Scabies can lead to more severe health complications such as kidney and heart disease if left untreated. Other issues such as inadequate housing and lack of access to washing machines exasperate the problem. Overcrowding in the NT is the highest in the country. These homes are often the epicentre for scabies outbreaks due to unwashed clothes and blankets and often no solution at hand.

That’s why we were proud to have partnered with Aboriginal Investment Group to establish the Remote Laundries project to combat this infestation. A pilot project in Barunga, a community 80km southeast of Darwin and with a population of just over 300, was set up in 2019 with clear objectives of improving the health, quality of life and social and economic outcomes for its residents.

Remote Laundries provides economic opportunities in Barunga by employing locals

It’s great to see that the Remote Laundries project has exceeded our expectations. Scabies infection has been falling ever since, with a 60% drop in cases from 2019 to 2021. There have been financial benefits as well. The project makes a valuable contribution to the local economy by employing local staff and savings in medical and chronic disease treatment often related to scabies.

The Remote Laundries project now operates in Barunga, Darwin and Angurugu, with five more laundries scheduled to launch across the NT this year. We are delighted to be major partners of the Remote Laundries project and to work with Aboriginal Investment Group to provide positive change in the lives of Aboriginal people in remote communities.

For more information, please visit the Remote Laundries or Aboriginal Investment Group website.

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