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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Off the floor - bedding trial for the Northern Territory

A new 'Off the floor' project has recently been launched as a response to the continuing effects of acute rheumatic fever on remote indigenous communities as well as on the public health system. The project has started with a pilot program in a remote community in Arnhem Land, NT with the aim of:

  • reducing the incident of infection by giving members of the community the opportunity to engage in a program offering health and life education as well as raised bedding inside homes
  • increasing the chances of children involved in the program being able to focus in school by providing them with a clean and comfortable place to sleep
  • building self-esteem of participants by creating a sense of ownership and belonging related to having a bed of their own to sleep in each night

The program will run through 2 stages, consisting of three parts. The first and most important part is education. It is vital that we can communicate the ways in which environmental conditions affect people’s health. We need to demonstrate why good environmental health practices are important and how this will improve day to day life as well as longevity of life.

The second part of this program is issuing the actual bedding. The bedding will only be available to those who have attended information sessions. At this stage, we are looking at supplying a range of bedding alternatives to suit the needs of everyone in a home. These include:

  • hammocks, small beds or bunks for children
  • adult beds which fold-up or are multipurpose

Finally, the third part of the program is an incentive program. The incentive program tracks the progress of households while offering perks for maintaining the beds. Perks for children include access to fresh fruit over weekends, a luxury which many would not have access to outside of school hours.

They hope that this opportunity will in turn give people a chance to make a difference in themselves, their home and their community.