Asthma Australia welcomes government funding to support Australians with asthma
CANBERRA: Asthma Australia welcomes the Government’s announcement of $7.6m funding for asthma services, including a program to support children and young people living with asthma, a focus on priority populations with high asthma rates, and the development of a place-based community asthma program.
Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Australia said; “We are pleased that the government will continue supporting the 2.5million Australians with asthma with initiatives that will not only save lives, but also enhance the lives of people living with asthma every day.
It’s important that we can continue to deliver valued services, such as our 1800 ASTHMA Helpline, to reduce the impacts of asthma on people with asthma, their families and carers, and the health system.
“At the same time, we need to develop innovative approaches that consider how we best address the needs of communities who are disproportionately affected by asthma.”
Asthma affects 1 in 9 Australians and kills over 400 Australians a year.
The funding totals $7.6m over four years and will go towards information and education resources as well as the Australia-wide COACH Program that delivers individual telephone coaching to improve asthma management.
“Poor asthma management leads to urgent and avoidable doctor and hospital visits, placing an unnecessary burden on the healthcare system in the form of costs in primary and tertiary healthcare. This program aims to ensure that people with asthma and those in the broader community are equipped with the information and support they need to better manage their asthma,” said Ms Goldman.
“Funding will also support the development of national, best practice guidelines for schools and Schools Health Check.
Children are a vulnerable group, especially outside of the care of their primary carers. They spend most of their waking hours at school, and are exposed to a wide range of triggers which can provoke asthma symptoms. This program aims to ensure schools are safe environments, and risks are minimised.”
The third area covered by the funding is a $700,000 allocation to develop place-based approaches, working alongside communities where rates of asthma are higher.
The prevalence of asthma in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island population is almost twice as high (18%) as other Australians (11%).
Rates of asthma also vary by remoteness and socioeconomic status.
Ms Goldman said, “A person’s health outcomes should not be dependent on where they live, how much money they have or their cultural background. This funding allows us to work alongside communities who experience higher rates of asthma. We want to do this in a sustainable way with the aim of reducing the inequality that currently exists in people’s health outcomes in these communities.
Asthma Australia will work closely with communities who are most affected by asthma to develop solutions that will work for them in their local communities. We can then use what we learn to embed these practices and achieve lasting change.”
Funding of $4.8m is also allocated to other community programs providing information and support to people with asthma, parents, carers and the community.
Kezia Calvert has an eight-year-old son with asthma and says that asthma services have been highly valuable to her family; “When Jensen was only four years old, he nearly died because of a severe asthma attack – the first one he had ever had.
In the weeks after Jensen’s diagnosis, there was so much uncertainty, about if or when he would suffer another asthma attack, my husband and I took on board as much information and advice as we could. Much of that information came from Asthma Australia, through handouts from the GP and their website.
As parents to a child with asthma our role in Jensen’s journey has been not just to help him, but to also help those around him including family, friends, teachers and other parents, to ensure Jensen’s asthma is responded to quickly. We all worry about Jensen’s asthma so that he doesn’t have to.”
Media contact – Annette Stenhouse 0416 861 732
Kezia Calvert is available for interview
Michele Goldman, CEO, Asthma Australia is available for interview
About Asthma Australia www.asthmaaustralia.org.au
For over 50 years Asthma Australia has been the leader in asthma health care, research and support. Asthma Australia delivers evidence-based preventative health strategies to over 200,000 people every year 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.