ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy Limited) was established in 1990 as the peak professional body of clinical immunology and allergy in Australia and New Zealand by amalgamating the Australian College of Allergy (ACA) with the Australasian Society for Immunology (ASI) Clinical Immunology Group (CIG). ASCIA is registered as a Company limited by guarantee (ACN 608 798 241; ABN 45 615 521 452).
Advance the science and practice of allergy and clinical immunology, by promoting the highest standard of medical practice, training, education and research, to improve the health and quality of life of people with allergic diseases, immunodeficiencies and other immune diseases.
- Standards - Promote the highest standards of allergy and immunology medical training, practice and care
- Education - Provide high quality allergy and immunology education for health professionals, patients, consumers and carers
- Advice - Utilise ASCIA and stakeholder expertise to address allergy and immunology issues, provide advice and representation to government and other organisations
- Advocacy - Increase the profile of allergy, immunology and immunopathology and advocate for patients
- Research - Promote and fund research to improve health and quality of life of people with allergy and other immune diseases
- Sustainability - Ensure sustainability of ASCIA initiatives
ASCIA is a member society of the World Allergy Organisation (WAO) and the Asia Pacific Association of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology (APAAACI). ASCIA is also affiliated with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) as a specialty society.
As a specialty society affiliated with the RACP, ASCIA supports the RACP "Working Together" policy for staff, trainees, fellows and associates. This policy outlines the expected code of conduct to support fair treatment for all, without bullying, discrimination or harassment. The policy is available on the RACP website: www.racp.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/working-together-policy.pdf?sfvrsn=2
ASCIA members are health professionals who work in the areas of allergy, clinical immunology and immunopathology. ASCIA membership has tripled in the past 15 years and in 2016 there are over 600 ASCIA members, including:
- 250 allergy/immunology specialists (~41% of members)
- 55 trainee allergy/immunology specialists (~9% of members)
- 102 other medical practitioners (~17% of members)
- 104 nurses (~17% of members)
- 47 scientists (~8% of members)
- 37 dietitians (~6% of members)
Membership applications are available from the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/members/apply
ASCIA members diagnose, treat and manage patients with allergies, immunodeficiencies and other immune diseases.
Allergic diseases are amongst the fastest growing chronic disease and public health issues in Australia and New Zealand, affecting around 20% of the population. They include food, insect and drug allergies, asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and eczema. Allergic diseases, particularly food allergy and drug allergy, are increasing in prevalence, complexity and severity. The most severe type of allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis, which is potentially life threatening.
Immunodeficiency diseases are serious, potentially life threatening conditions that are increasing in number and complexity. Delay in diagnosis of immunodeficiency disease leads to poor health outcomes and premature death.
There are more than 100 different autoimmune diseases that affect around 5% of the population and if not appropriately managed, these can lead to significant disability.
- ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis (only region worldwide to use standardised plans) and Guidelines were first released in 2003 and are regularly reviewed and updated
- ASCIA action plans, guidelines and other resources that promote high standards are available open access from ASCIA website
- ASCIA collaborates with other groups to improve patient care e.g. TAPID (transplantation and PID) project
- ASCIA Annual Conferences highlight latest research and provide opportunities to network with local and international colleagues
- ASCIA e-training courses available since 2010 - only region worldwide to use standardised and free online anaphylaxis training for schools and childcare
- ASCIA e-training courses for health professionals available since 2011 - including RACGP approved allergy and anaphylaxis active learning module
- 1st ASCIA Infant Feeding Advice and Allergy Prevention Guidelines were released in 2008
- 1st region worldwide to significantly update guidelines based on recently published studies and reviews in 2016
- ASCIA information for patients, consumers and carers is available open access from ASCIA website - first developed in 2000, this information is regularly reviewed, updated and augmented
- In 2013 ASCIA established the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA) to fund research and increase awareness
- In 2015 the 1st National Allergy Strategy for Australia was developed by ASCIA in partnership with Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, in collaboration with other stakeholders
- Government funding for the National Allergy Strategy was secured for 1st stage of implementation in 2016-2017
- From 2004 to 2008 ASCIA awarded $325,500 for allergy and immunology research projects
- In 2013 ASCIA established AIFA to fund research and raise awareness of allergy and other immune diseases
- In 2016 the 1st project to receive AIFA seed funding grant was awarded NHMRC funding
- To date $100,000 in AIFA grants have been awarded
- Maintaining existing funding and identifying new funding streams
- Reinforcing our reputation and strengthening our brands
- Responding to supply and regulatory issues
- Maintaining staff and increasing capacity
- Retaining and growing membership
ASCIA Committees and working parties
The following ASCIA committees are standing committees of the ASCIA Council, with representation on Council:
- ASCIA Anaphylaxis committee
- ASCIA Education committee
- ASCIA Immunodeficiency committee
- ASCIA Laboratory Practice committee
- ASCIA Paediatric committee
- ASCIA Nurses committee
- ASCIA Dietitians committee
In addition to the above mentioned committees there are ASCIA working parties and interest groups, which are not standing committees of the ASCIA Council.
Further information is available at www.allergy.org.au/members/committees
For qualifications of members go to www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-and-clinical-immunology-services/how-to-locate-a-specialist
ASCIA educational activities include:
Health professional programs (e.g. ASCIA Annual Conferences, advanced training meetings, e-training courses, clinical updates, guidelines, position/consensus statements, action plans, treatment/management plans, checklists, anaphylaxis resources, registers).
Public education programs (e.g. ASCIA information for patients, consumers and carers, anaphylaxis resources, e-training courses for schools, childcare services and e-training courses for the community.
ASCIA educational activities are dependent on:
Funding derived from membership fees, educational grants from governments for specific projects and unrestricted educational grants from industry.
ASCIA members providing their expertise and time pro-bono.
For more details about sponsors and the ASCIA sponsorship policy go to www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/sponsors
ASCIA Annual Conferences are usually held in September, with locations rotating between Australian states and New Zealand on approximately a six year cycle. Further information is available at www.allergy.org.au/conferences/ascia-annual-conference
In addition there are more regular educational meetings for ASCIA members which are organised by local ASCIA area representatives. Sponsorship of these meetings is not included in the ASCIA sponsorship categories listed above, as they are regional specific events.
A brief history of how ASCIA was formed
There have been considerable advances in our knowledge of immune system disorders over the last 50 years through research and clinical practice. This has resulted in:
- Improved diagnosis and management of allergy and other immune diseases
- Collaborative world class allergy and immunology research in Australasia
- Development of ASCIA as the peak body for allergy and clinical immunology in Australasia
In 1953 the Australian Society of Allergists (ASA) was registered under the auspice of the British Medical Association (Australia) and in 1962 the ASA was incorporated.
In 1970 the Australasian Society for Immunology (ASI) was established and ASA became the Australian College of Allergists, which later changed its name and constitution to become the Australian College of Allergy (ACA).
In 1990 the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) was established, by amalgamating the ACA with the ASI Clinical Immunology Group (CIG).
(Reference: Donald, Gwen. ACA Newsletter 9; 1990)
Content updated January 2017