Asthma Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to provide funding of $8.4million over four years under the 2022-23 Budget. The funding will help Asthma Australia continue to provide core services to support people with asthma and their carers to improve asthma management, including in communities where the burden of disease is highest.
“Asthma Australia thanks the Federal Government for again committing funding towards our one-on-one support services, training programs for schools and collaborative projects in local communities,” Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said.
“This funding has been crucial in recent years—a period which has seen people with asthma disproportionately impacted by repeated calamities, including bushfire smoke, the COVID-19 pandemic, dust storms, the mould caused by unprecedented rainfall and floods, and the heightened anxiety and stress that accompanies these events.”
During the peak of the bushfires in December 2019–January 2020, our 1800 ASTHMA service handled more than twice the number of usual calls from people located in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 261% increase in web traffic, with people searching for answers to many questions including whether they were more susceptible to COVID-19. Most recently, the recent floods in Queensland and NSW saw 14 of our social media posts reach 102,301 people, a 408% increase in people seeing these health messages.
“Unfortunately, we know that accelerating climate change will cause more events that trigger asthma. While we welcome this increase in funding, we know that it is not sufficient for us to meet the demand from people with asthma, their carers and people in the broader community. This gap will only widen with the changing climate,” Ms Goldman said.
Asthma Australia will continue to seek commitments from both the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party ahead of the upcoming Federal Election We will be seeking an additional $1.7 million over four years to cover increased demand on our many services from people with asthma and their carers.
“Asthma Australia has also sought Federal funding of $1.8 million over two years for our AirSmart campaign, which will empower people with the information and tools they need to minimise the harms caused by unhealthy air and we will continue to seek this support in the leadup to the Federal election,” Ms Goldman said.
“We developed AirSmart after multiple inquiries into the 2019–20 bushfires, including the Royal Commission, recommended a public education campaign to reduce the health impacts of future air pollution events.”
There are 2.7million (one in nine) people in Australia whose lives are directly impacted by asthma, and many millions more who care and support people with asthma. Asthma Australia invites the millions of people in Australia whose lives are impacted by asthma to lend their voices to support our request that we are adequately funded to provide the vital information and support services that help people with asthma live better, more comfortable lives.
What is asthma?
Asthma is an inflammatory condition of the airways which restricts airflow and can be fatal. There is no cure, but most people with asthma can experience good control.
Asthma Australia’s purpose is to help people breathe better so they can live freely. We deliver evidence-based prevention and health strategies to more than 500,000 people each year. The support we provide helps not only those living with the condition, but literally changes the lives of those who care for them and stand ready to provide lifesaving support to their loved ones, often when least expected.
Asthma causes around 39,000 hospitalisations and 400 deaths annually— tragically, that includes too many children. Out of these hospitalisations, 80% are avoidable. Asthma Australia and its staff work every day to support those who never quite know how their asthma will behave – will they live through their day with little impact, or will a major flareup see them rushed to hospital?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey (2017-18) notes that asthma (11.2% of people) is slightly less common than arthritis (15%), but more common than diabetes (4.9%), heart, stroke and vascular disease (4.8%), osteoporosis (3.8%) and kidney disease (1.0%). Asthma is the 9th leading contributor to the overall burden of disease in Australia, having risen from 10th place in 2003 to 9th place in 2018.