ARRCS helps furniture find a second life in Mutitjulu

November 1, 2023
A truck loaded with mattresses and an ARRCS van stand on the red dirt before Uluru, ready to deliver secondhand furniture to the community of Mutitjulu.

Hundreds of pieces of furniture have received a second life in the remote First Nations community of Mutitjulu, thanks to a genuine partnership between ARRCS and Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.

The partnership started in 2019, when ARRCS learned that Voyages was refurbishing one of its properties at Yulara near Uluru. Seeing a need in the Mutitjulu community, which sits at the base of Uluru, ARRCS Activities Officer Todd Rayner reached out to see if the old furniture could be rehomed.

It could – and four years later more than 100 mattresses and mattress protectors, 50 lounges, and 100 blankets have been donated to the community, as refurbishments continued.

“We’re very proud of our partnership with the traditional owners of these lands, the Anangu and the Mutitjulu community,” says Voyages CEO Matt Cameron-Smith.

“This includes working closely with ARRCS, the aged care facility and the wider Mutitjulu community to support their needs, including offering quality second-hand furniture to residents that is surplus to Ayers Rock Resort requirements,” he says.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to support a circular economy and minimise waste to landfill, we also facilitate opportunities for departing Yulara residents to donate the furniture they no longer require when they leave the community. Our relationship with ARRCS and the aged care facility goes back many years, and we look forward to it continuing.”

Most recently, an additional 50 double-bed ensembles, 20 single-bed ensembles, plus bedside tables, coffee tables, dining tables and loungeroom furniture were donated in August.

ARRCS, with the support of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation (MCAC), helps facilitate the delivery of the furniture.

“We take it out to the community where our Nganampa Ngura Mutitjulu-nya Flexible Aged Care facility is, and everyone just comes and grabs what they want,” Todd says.

“And the ones that don’t have vehicles, we’re lucky that MCAC help us out. They bring out a flat-bed kind of truck, load all the stuff on that plus our trailer and the ute. We have approximately 30 community care clients that we visit anyway through each day, so they all get something.”

Mutitjulu is 500km away from the nearest town, so extending the life of the furniture locally also displaces the need to ship items from further away. “Everything comes out on big trucks, and it gets quite expensive,” Todd says. “This deal we’ve got with Voyages is so beneficial to the community and the environment. It’s next-level – for a multi-million-dollar corporation to want to pass down things that can be used instead of just throwing them away.”

ARRCS is proudly part of UnitingCare, which is committed to protecting the environment and using energy and resources wisely.

UnitingCare Manager of Environmental Sustainability Simone Elias says ARRCS was driven by community impact and wanting to ensure that furniture from the hotel could be reused.

“It’s wonderful to hear about our people going above and beyond, sniffing out those opportunities and being the change agent to make it happen,” she says. “This type of rehoming – and rethinking of waste as resources – I believe it’s really key to reducing what ends up in landfill out in these remote places.”

One objective of UnitingCare’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy is to reduce waste generation, increase recycling and support the transition to a circular economy.

“Todd’s initiative is an excellent example of UnitingCare’s waste and stewardship goals. It’s not going to show in the waste figures for our organisation because the waste was not generated in our facilities, but Todd really has created an opportunity for positive impact beyond UnitingCare through his work with ARRCS. It’s a really nice alignment that goes beyond our own targets and stewardship goals.”

ARRCS provides aged care and community services in Mutitjulu, through our Nganampa Ngura Mutitjulu-nya Flexible Aged Care facility, community care services, and Mutitjulu Itiku Munu Tjitjiku Ngura Childcare centre.