Last updated on 28/02/2023


As another bushfire season fast approaches, Asthma Australia is calling for all parties and candidates in the NSW election to commit to action before any crisis hits Australians.  

To support people living with asthma, their carers and health professionals, Asthma Australia is calling on all parties and candidates to commit to fund a national AirSmart public education campaign. Like SunSmart, AirSmart aims to educate and empower people by providing information, tools and strategies needed to minimise or avoid exposure to air pollution. A pilot AirSmart campaign in July and August 2022, that included southern NSW, sites demonstrated strong results. 

“We are calling on the next NSW Government to take three courses of action: to fund AirSmart, to support people with asthma on low incomes to install cleaner and more efficient forms of heating, cooling and cooking in their homes. And to invest in HEPA air purifiers for people with asthma on low incomes,” Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said.  

The latest Climate Council report underlines that “Australia is dangerously unprepared for climate fuelled disasters”. Similarly, NSW is still dangerously unprepared for air quality disasters and air pollution from bushfires.

New polling from Asthma Australia of 1000 NSW voters (18+) conducted by YouGov: 

  • One quarter of NSW voters (24%) said they would not be able protect themselves if a bushfire smoke air quality disaster happened tomorrow. 
  • 52% of NSW voters want more priority given to climate change by government 
  • 43% of NSW voters want government to prioritise more funding for better monitoring and information during bushfires 

“In 2020, we shared the collective experiences and challenges of more than 12,000 people who completed Asthma Australia’s landmark survey titled ‘Bushfire smoke; are you coping?’,” Goldman said. “We shared how people with asthma were impacted by the fires, and the recommendations for action to protect their health during future fires when our communities are blanketed by smoke. 

“We made our position clear that, as a nation, responding to air quality crises must be part of our preparation for increasing health and environmental risks. It’s now 2023 and we’re calling the next NSW Government to take urgent action,” she added. 

In 2020, New South Wales (NSW) launched an inquiry into the health impacts of bushfire smoke and drought. At that time, Asthma Australia stressed the dangers of bushfire smoke exposure to our community, to governments and to media. 

Alongside CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman at the NSW Inquiry hearing stood Chery Lleigh Partridge, the older sister of 19-year-old Courtney-Partridge McLennan who perished from a fatal asthma attack in November 2019. Chery Lleigh expressed her concern about lack of action in an interview with Ch9’s A Current Affair (aired Saturday 18th February 2023).  

“If this happens again, if you can’t breathe and you don’t have reliable information, then we’ve all failed,” Ms Goldman concluded. 

“We need action, and we need it now.”  

About the YouGov survey: The total sample size was 1,031 NSW voters aged 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th – 15th February 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all NSW voters (aged 18+). As a member of the Australian Polling Council (APC), YouGov adheres to the APC Code of Conduct regarding the public release of data with implications for policy or politics. A Methodology Statement will be published on our website within two business days of results being released to the public domain. 

ABOUT Asthma Australia:
Asthma Australia is the nation’s peak body representing 2.7 million Australians living with asthma. We’ve been here since 1962 and even though a lot has changed since then, asthma continues to claim a life each day and is the number one health condition burdening Aussie children. Asthma is an inflammatory condition of the airways, restricting airflow and can be fatal. There is no cure, but most people with asthma can experience good control.