Queensland’s Orange Sky Laundry – the world’s first free mobile laundry for the homeless – has now launched the first Brisbane-based mobile shower service with the help of the Queensland Government’s Dignity First Fund.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni launched Lorry, a van fitted with two shower cubicles, today in Brisbane.
“Before the Vinnies CEO sleepout in 2016, I met a man named Lawrence and we talked for a while,” Mr de Brenni said.
“He’d been homeless for some time, and he told me that the thing he needed most right in that moment wasn’t somewhere to stay – it was clean underwear.
“That’s why we launched the Dignity First Fund in 2016. Because while we work toward longer term solutions to homelessness, especially more homes, there are a range of immediate needs that can be addressed through services like Orange Sky’s laundry and shower vans.
“A sophisticated response to homelessness has to include services which support people’s dignity while they transition to the next step.”
Orange Sky co-founder Nic Marchesi said that 14 vans and 800 volunteers now facilitate 1300 hours of positive and genuine conversations every week across Australia.
“We provide clean clothes, warm showers and non-judgmental connections for people in serious need of all three,” Mr Marchesi said.
“The funding from Dignity First has been instrumental in establishing the mobile shower service in Brisbane, with the help of Queensland Urban Utilities.
“It not only provides hot showers for people who need and appreciate them, it gives people a genuine sense of connection back into their own communities.
“We did a trial of a shower van last year in Brisbane with a van that’s now based in Melbourne,” he said.
“Lorry will initially operate from 9 locations here in Brisbane, and we expect we’ll be able to provide about 45 showers each week. This will grow as we recruit more volunteers and secure other locations where people feel safe to use the service.”
The Dignity First Fund awarded $132,000 to keep the service going.
Water supply provider Queensland Urban Utilities helped to introduce the service and keep it on the road in Queensland, chipping in $50,000.
Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull said it was great the Queensland Government had come on board to keep a shower van operating here permanently.
“Homeless people often have difficulty accessing our water and sewerage services, including safe, clean showers,” she said.
“The shower van will make a big difference by restoring dignity and improving hygiene standards for people living on the streets.
“We’ve been sponsoring the Brisbane laundry van for more than a year and are very excited to sponsor this latest addition to the Orange Sky fleet.”
Orange Sky operates 12 mobile laundry services and two mobile shower services in Brisbane, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, the Sunshine Coast, Perth, Adelaide, Wollongong and Hobart.
Mr Marchesi and Orange Sky co-founder Lucas Patchett were named Young Australians of the Year in 2016, after starting the mobile laundry service in 2014.
Applications for the second round of the $2.5 million Dignity First Fund will open on 15 March 2017. Organisations can register their interest on the department’s website now at www.hpw.qld.gov.au