Sustainability 2020 to 2022

ASCIA has been working towards improving its sustainability for the past 30 years, to ensure that ASCIA’s operations are financially viable into the future, and to reduce ASCIA’s impact on the environment. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major financial impact on ASCIA, due to the ASCIA 2020 conference being postponed until September 2021, which is the main source of income for ASCIA. Therefore, in addition to some important government subsidies available in the short term (until 30 September 2020), further financial support is required for ASCIA to continue providing a wide range of services.

ASCIA Priorities

ASCIA priorities from 2020 to 2022 (listed on https://www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/ascia-initiatives) are:

  1. ASCIA Member Services and Benefits
  2. ASCIA Sustainability
  3. ASCIA Annual Conference – postponed to September 2021
  4. ASCIA Education and Training 
  5. Advocacy on Behalf of ASCIA Members
  6. National Allergy Strategy
  7. AIFA Research Grants – delayed until late 2020
  8. ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy

ASCIA Operations

To support ASCIA operations, that enable ASCIA to continue providing member services, benefits and advocacy in 2020 to 2022, it is vital that all ASCIA annual membership fee payments are received before the end of the financial year (30 June). ASCIA is more reliant than previously on this income, due to the postponement of the ASCIA 2020 Conference to September 2021.

ASCIA has always strived to reduce its impact on the environment, and minimise costs due to staff, operations and travel. This has been achieved by:

  • Ensuring staffing is maintained at a sustainable level (current total is 5 FTE staff, including 2.5 FTE for ASCIA and 2.5 FTE for National Allergy Strategy).
  • Contracting specialised services as required (e.g. webmasters, conference staff, graphic designers).
  • Conducting most meetings remotely, and most recently by videoconferencing, which is more cost effective than teleconferencing.
  • Hosting one of the two face to face ASCIA Council meetings the day prior to the ASCIA Annual Conference (but not in 2020).
  • Hosting educational meetings in cost effective venues in locations where most participants are based and scheduling related meetings (with similar participants), back to back whenever possible.
  • Efficient design of the ASCIA office, with reduced energy costs (minimising the need for air conditioning), reuse of furniture from the previous office, and a configuration compliant with social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Working from home is available for staff with long commutes or those living in other states.

ASCIA Annual Conference

The ASCIA Conference that has been rescheduled for September 2021 in Melbourne is expected to be a successful event, even if international travel restrictions persist during 2021, for the following reasons:

  • Delegates who attend ASCIA Annual Conferences are usually from Australia or New Zealand, and it is anticipated that travel restrictions between these countries will be relaxed by 2021.
  • Most international conferences in 2020 have been cancelled or postponed and it is likely that there will be a reluctance for people to travel outside of Australia and New Zealand in 2021. The ASCIA 2021 Conference will therefore be an opportunity for an international standard of continuing professional development in a relatively safe location.
  • The four international speakers invited to speak in 2020 have confirmed their participation for 2021. If travel restrictions are still in place, their talks can be presented via videoconferencing. 

Electronic poster boards will be introduced for the first time at ASCIA 2021 Conference, which will allow posters to be viewed in the exhibition hall. This should result in multiple benefits, including:

  • Reduced production and waste associated with printing posters.
  • Time and cost savings for delegates who will no longer need to print and transport posters.
  • More efficient use of space which will increase opportunities for engagement.

ASCIA Education and Training  

There are currently no cures for allergy and other immune diseases, so quality education and training is important. Since 2010, ASCIA has provided accessible, consistent and evidence-based online educational resources and e-training courses for health professionals, patients, carers (including school and early childhood education/care staff) and community. The costs for developing, updating, hosting and reviewing these world-leading free online resources and courses have been subsidised by ASCIA since 2010. 

Further support of ASCIA projects is required for ASCIA to continue providing these services, and no new resources or courses will be developed without additional funding.

In January 2020 ASCIA lodged a pre-budget submission to the Australian government to support expansion of ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training courses, which train more than 100,000 people per year. This submission is on the ASCIA website: https://www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports#s1

However, with the postponement of the budget from May to October 2020, ASCIA is now working on ways to reduce costs of servicing its e-training courses in 2020. These initiatives include:

Additional funding to support ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training courses from 2020 onwards would enable:

  • ASCIA to upgrade the e-training content, platforms and format to meet continuing professional development (CPD) accreditation standards for health professionals and community, and therefore increase usage, particularly in areas of need, such as regional, rural or remote locations.
  • Widespread promotion of ASCIA e-training courses to all health professionals and community to ensure equitable access throughout Australia.
  • ASCIA to adapt the upgraded content of the e-training courses into face-to-face modules, which could be used in outreach programs to upskill all health professionals and community throughout Australia, and therefore improve equitable access to education and training.

ASCIA educational resources and training courses can improve health outcomes and prevent potentially life-threatening reactions or infections, by providing accessible, consistent and evidence-based information about:

  • Preventing allergic reactions to foods, drugs and insects, including life threatening anaphylaxis. 
  • Appropriate treatment of immunodeficiencies to reduce life threatening infections and complications.

© ASCIA May 2020

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