Asthma Australia says Victorians with asthma can breathe a sigh of relief with 11 out of its 15 recommendations being acknowledged in the Inquiry into the health impacts of air pollution in Victoria report, released this morning (18 November 2021).
Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said she welcomed the report which now needed the Victorian Government to act on the recommendations to drive the health benefits of cleaner air.
“Victorians will be relieved that the Environment and Planning Committee has listened to the community and recommended a raft of changes that would clean up the air and support the most vulnerable groups,” Ms Goldman said.
Asthma Australia’s recommendations to the Inquiry were based on insights it gained from people with asthma from both its landmark Bushfire Smoke Impact and Woodfire Heaters and Health surveys, these included:
- the need for an air pollution public education campaign,
- rebate schemes to support people vulnerable to smoke from low-income households purchase air purifiers to improve air quality in their home,
- removal of woodfire heaters on the sale of a property.
“We are thrilled to see support for a public education campaign for air quality, which has been reflected in all inquiries following the bushfires.”
Since the Inquiry, Asthma Australia has substantially progressed the development of a pilot public education campaign for air quality called ‘AirSmart’, which includes the development of an app.
The pilot of AirSmart will run in regional Victoria in the new year and Asthma Australia will be seeking funding contributions from the Victorian government.
Ms Goldman said although the many constructive recommendations were welcomed, there were some missed opportunities in the Report to address woodfire heater smoke.
“While we welcome support for a progressive woodfire heater phase out by requiring removal on sale of a home in urban or built-up areas, this does nothing to stop new heaters being installed which will continue to pollute neighbourhoods for decades to come,” Ms Goldman said.
“We would also have liked to see the Committee explicitly recommending measures to ensure widespread take up of the woodfire heater replacement scheme.”
Asthma Australia welcomes the specific recommendations for Melbourne’s Inner West and the Latrobe Valley which are air pollution ‘hot spots’ where residents continue to be significantly impacted by poor air quality and pollution.
Asthma is a serious health issue which impacts 11.4 per cent of Victorians and was responsible for 117 deaths in Victoria alone in 2019 and for 11,628 hospital admissions for asthma in 2016-18, of which around 4000 were due to the thunderstorm asthma event in November 2016 that tragically caused 10 deaths.
For more information, please visit asthma.org.au/what-we-do/advocacy.