Deadly Cleaners, the small business striving to create ongoing employment opportunities for local people in Kakadu and West Arnhem area.
Today we would like to introduce you to Deadly Cleaners, a commercial and domestic cleaning service, based in Jabiru and operating in the Kakadu and West Arnhem region of the Northern Territory. A 100% owned and operated Indigenous business with local roots in the region, Deadly Cleaners strive to provide quality services at reasonable prices.
My main goal is to get out into the communities to make them a happier and safer place for all Indigenous people to live and to feel secure and be clean and tidy, inside and outside.
Meet Ashlee Christophersen
My business is a domestic and commercial cleaning business. I started it a year and a bit ago, and have been operating for about five months. We are based in Jabiru and work around Kakadu and West Arnhem.
I’ve been doing house cleaning at Gunbalanya, cleaning the houses after the contractors have moved out. I work for Bowali Visitor Centre in Jabiru, cleaning the whole visitor centre, and I also clean the Jabiru Golf Club – starting at 3.00am and finishing at 6.00am.
I have been working full-time with Centrelink. I was the only Centrelink Senior Officer in the whole of Kakadu. I’ve been doing that until now. I’m finishing up this Friday and will be doing Deadly Cleaners full-time from then. Before that, I ran cafes and restaurants in Kakadu and in Cairns, Queensland, which also involved training people to be baristas and chefs and that sort of thing.
Many Rivers came into Centrelink and asked to put pamphlets up, and then I looked at the pamphlet! My uncle was working with them as well, and that is why they were out here because they came down to see and talk with him. That was about a year ago, about the time I started the business.
I wanted to make Deadly Cleaners an all-Indigenous business in the local area. I want Indigenous people to have support and have someone there to go, “Ok, this is how you do this”, and hopefully they take that back to their communities. That way I am making the community a happier and safer place to live.
Working with Many Rivers
The services I received from Many Rivers were help with things like cash flow forecasting, because I am so bad with numbers! So basic stuff like that and generally trying to set the business up. They also helped to introduce me to other companies that are helping other small Indigenous businesses, and helping to get grants and more support in general.
The most useful thing was probably the help with the cash flow forecast, and hooking me up with Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and helping me with that journey, because that was very long. I am still working with Many Rivers; I still talk with Kat Lee even though she’s in Darwin. I can call her when I’m losing it and she always reassures me!
Deadly Cleaners team
I did have three girls – one was from Papua New Guinea, one was from Darwin and one was from Dubbo. Two were 17 years old and one was 28 years old. The 28 year old had two kids and the 17 year olds were in school. So when they didn’t go to school, I would take them out with me. I would take them to Gunbalanya and we’d clean and have lunch and look at rock art sites. They’re not working with me anymore. One has gone back to Darwin, one has gone back to Dubbo and the other has gone back to school. So it’s just me, myself and I working full-time in the business at the moment.
The biggest success is actually having a business that is in my name and supports Indigenous people as much as it possibly can. And I got the tender for Parks. That was a success.
Just at the start, getting things off the ground was a challenge. And doing tenders – tenders are the hardest part. Staffing has also been a challenge, because people have been unreliable.
The biggest change (for you and your family) has been being more busy than usual. I feel like I am more stable now and I definitely feel more hopeful about the future.
My main goal is to get out into the communities to make them a happier and safer place for all Indigenous people to live and to feel secure and be clean and tidy, inside and outside. Some people need that support and courage and a little bit of a push, and that is my main goal to support them as much as I can and to encourage as much I can by being a living example. I would also like to expand Deadly Cleaners all around Australia and go into different communities, and maybe even franchise the business.
Thanks Ashlee for sharing your story. We love your passion and how you are supporting your local community. If you would like to reach out to Ashlee you can contact Deadly Cleaners here.
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