Last updated on 25/03/2019

Key Points:

  • SA Health can’t expect better outcomes by continuing the same approaches.
  • Investment in asthma services will free up primary care resources to treat other diseases.
  • SA is a highest risk state for asthma and intervention is necessary.


ADELAIDE: Funding asthma services in South Australia would relieve unnecessary burden on health and result in immediate gains, the CEO of Asthma Australia has told a Parliamentary Committee today.

Proposed low cost asthma health services would give people the healthcare they needed to stay well and out of hospital, saving a potential $7.2M tax payer dollars each year.

CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman explained that its preventive healthcare measures would deliver positive dividends for the people of South Australia.

“If you adopt services to relieve avoidable pressure on the health system, it frees up valuable resources to treat other diseases,” Ms Goldman said.

“Asthma is a major contributor. It ranks in the top 10 reasons people seek urgent medical attention at emergency departments, that’s almost 6000 presentations each year.

Asthma Australia says that 80% of asthma hospitalisations and their associated costs are completely avoidable.

“That’s because people with asthma aren’t getting the level of support they need to stay well,” Ms Goldman said.

“A 15-minute consult with your GP is just not enough time. You might present back to a doctor two or three times in a short space of time and even at your local hospital.

“Relieving this pressure point with asthma support services is the greatest gains will occur,” she said.

Asthma affects 13% of South Australians or one in eight people, which is the highest in the country.

Ms Goldman said the State Government had the opportunity to make a landmark change for asthma and their health system.

“That’s why we’re presenting evidence today, to clearly articulate how this could happen,” Ms Goldman said.

iStock_Reliever Boy Holding it out

The peak health body put forward a pre-budget funding submission to the South Australian Health Department for a leading asthma management program but said they were deferred until Wellbeing SA was established.

“This isn’t the first-time people with asthma have been sidelined.

“Asthma is a serious public health issue that needs  immediate support,” Ms Goldman said.

Ms Goldman said Asthma Australia had a robust and integrated plan to ensure health professionals and people with asthma were supported.

“We have been designing and testing new approaches to better connect the various parts of our health system, right here in Adelaide.

She said the Adelaide Respiratory Health Project was a trial Project being run in the outer suburbs of Adelaide and was making positive inroads.

“This Project is a strong example of the benefits our organisation can deliver to the health system,” Ms Goldman said.

The Project is piloting a new model of care, linking four general practices and 12 pharmacies to collaborate and build capacity through training and systems, to provide optimum healthcare for people with asthma and COPD.

With asthma in the top five conditions people present to their GP with, Ms Goldman said it made sense to extend training and support to primary health care professionals.

Asthma Australia is the only applicant to provide oral evidence and answer questions at the South Australia Legislative Council Select Community for Health hearing today.

The purpose of the Select Committee is to inquire into and report on the Health Services in South Australia. There is a focus on where quality, accessibility and affordability can be improved through preventative health and primary care.

Asthma Australia Limited services populations of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, ACT and Tasmania. With 2.7 million Australians affected by asthma, the organisation delivers evidence-based preventative health strategies and provides support, training and resources to the primary health care sector.

The organisation funds vital basic science and population health research contributing to national and international understandings of asthma and how best to manage the disease.

For more information about programs and resources specific to Tasmania, people can visit our website or phone our free 1800 Asthma (1800 278 462) service to speak to an Asthma Educator.

Facts and Stats Table

This table provides a comparison on key asthma statistics for South Australia vs. National

Asthma South Australia National
Prevalence 13% (2017/18)

220,000 people

Increased from 10.6% in 2014/15

11.2% (2017/18)

2.7 million people

ED presentations 5,754 (2016/17)

$443 per presentation

74,034 (2016/17)
Hospitalisations 145.5 per 100,000 or 2,374 people (2014/15)

Between $2500 and $5400

134.8 per 100,000


Deaths 42 (2017) 446 (2017)
Asthma Action Plan Ownership 35.8% of all people with asthma

68% of children (0-14yrs)

17.8% of adults (25-44yrs)


28.4% of all people with asthma

57.3% of children (0-14yrs)

16.5% of adults (25-44)