Archived News Item

Mackay Sister Helps Restore Dignity with Orange Sky Australia

Kerry-Ann Sullivan RSM (Centre) with volunteers holding a free bag of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and other toiletries.


Earlier this year Kerry-Ann Sullivan RSM, from Mackay, became involved in Orange Sky Australia; the world’s first free mobile laundry service for people experiencing homelessness – an idea founded in a Brisbane garage by two 20-year old mates.


Founders Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett installed a couple of washing machines and dryers in the back of their old van, visiting parks in Brisbane to wash and dry clothes for free. With an aim to improve hygiene standards and restore dignity to people doing it tough, they stumbled on something much bigger and more significant – the power of a conversation.


The song, Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch has been a major inspiration behind this project. “In your love, my salvation lies” and “I had a dream I stood beneath an orange sky, with my brother standing by” are lyrics from the song. The entire message of the song is about helping our brothers and sisters. These values are imperative to Orange Sky and central to the project.


Orange Sky has 24 Vans operating in 20 cities across Australia and came to Mackay in October 2017.


“The Mackay van was the first hybrid in the fleet – washers, driers and a shower all in one vehicle,” said sr Kerry-Ann. “It has two 10kg washers and dryers that allow 20kg of washing every hour and it’s during this time where Orange Sky makes its biggest impact by fostering non-judgemental conversation.”


The Laundry in the back of the Van


All the vans also include onboard clean and grey water storage, along with a power generator. The mobile shower vans have solar power panels on the roof to help heat water.


“At the moment the local Orange Sky Laundry/Shower is available in Sarina on Mondays, at Canelands Shopping Centre Car Park on Tuesday and Sunday evenings, at CASA (Community Accommodation and Support Agency) on Wednesdays, and St Vincent de Paul on Fridays,” Kerry-Ann continued.


They hope to offer the service 7 days per week once more volunteers come on board.


“While the service offers much needed practical assistance to those who have fallen on tough times, I have been humbled by the way the people who use the service are so open in sharing their struggles.”


“Each time I am on shift I can’t help but think of Catherine’s words – “There are things the poor prize more highly than gold, tho’ they cost the donor nothing; among these are the kind word, the gentle, compassionate look, and the patient hearing of their sorrows”.”


Founders Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett. Image credit: The Catholic Leader



Messages to: Kerry-Ann Sullivan