• Chief investigator, Associate Professor Anna Ralph (Menzies)
  • Associate Professor Vicki Krause (DoH Director Centre for Disease Control)
  • Angela Kelly (Menzies)
  • Dr Kate Hardie (DoH Head RHD Control Program CDC)
  • Marea Fittock (DoH)
  • Christine Fitzgerald (NT Department of Housing and Community Development)
  • John Havnen (NACCHO)
  • Dr Rosemary Wyber (Telethon Kids Institute)
  • Community clinics
  • Sunrise Health 
  • Tiwi Land Council
  • RHDAustralia
  • NT Department of Health
  • Telethon Kids Institute

The SP Plus project commenced at two Top End remote communities in February 2018. Employing five local Aboriginal Community Workers (ACWs) has contributed to the enthusiastic uptake of the project. The ACWs are discovering all there is to know about acute rheumatic fever and the environmental conditions that lead to the abundance of Strep A bacteria in the home and its role in developing rheumatic fever.

Armed with tablets full of interesting information and hip hop songs about rheumatic fever, the ACWs are spending time with the participants discussing the importance of functioning health hardware and protecting those at higher risk from Strep A in the home (crowding). The ACWs are making use of the Treatment Tracker app developed by RHDAustralia to assist participants in receiving their penicillin injections on time and are supporting people in navigating the health service at their community.

The schools at both communities have hosted the ACWs to present short sessions engaging the young students in how to prevent Strep A from spreading from person to person and stressing the importance of treatment of sore throats and skin sores.

A workshop is being planned for all ACWs to attend, learn from each other, advise on improvements to the study and generally have some fun together!

  1. Community engagement fundamental for effective delivery of care

    Community engagement fundamental for effective delivery of care


    A research project in the Northern Territory (NT) is looking to minimise the transmission of Group A Streptococcus (GAS or ‘strep’) – the bacteria responsible for acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

  2. Community collaboration ensures ending RHD is everybody’s business

    Community collaboration ensures ending RHD is everybody’s business


    Collaboration is the driving force behind ‘END RHD Demonstration Communities’ – a new community-driven, research-backed approach to tackling rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in remote Australia.

  • Stop recurrences of rheumatic fever and develop strategies to reduce Streptococcal A infections in households where someone who has had rheumatic fever lives.
  • Patients and their households will be supported to establish ‘Strep-free zones’ by exploring the roles of crowding, functioning health hardware and early recognition and treatment of sore throats and skin sores.
  • Children and young adults with rheumatic fever need long-term penicillin injections, called secondary prophylaxis (SP). However, this is not enough to stop rheumatic fever recurrences that may lead to permanent heart damage, since not everyone can get every needle on time every 28 days for years on end. This project adds a ‘plus’ to the standard secondary prophylaxis by adding another layer of prevention that will address streptococcal infections at their source. 
  • Activities of the project occur in six primary domains. Central to the project is the role of Aboriginal Community Workers, employed through Menzies, who support and develop partnerships with RHD clients and their families.

Implications for policy and practice:
  • This is a pilot feasibility study which will run in selected communities in the NT’s Top End over 12 months and explores the role of local Care Navigators at the community level.
Chief investigator: 
Project manager:
Contact information:
Project dates:
  • August 2017 – December 2018