The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) was established in 1990 as the peak professional body of clinical immunology and allergy in Australia and New Zealand. ASCIA is a Company limited by guarantee (ACN 608 798 241; ABN 45 615 521 452) and is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/e79f36de081f49213f96361b173c5d91
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- Brief history of ASCIA
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 immune system disorders. These include 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 ASCIA members, other 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.
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. Currently there is a total of 680 ASCIA members, comprising 263 Full ASCIA members and 417 ASCIA Associates. All members are listed on the members section of the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/members/directory
ASCIA Associates include medical practitioners (e.g. GPs, paediatricians), other health professionals (e.g. nurses, dietitians, pharmacists), scientists/researchers, trainee clinical immunology/allergy specialists and retired ASCIA members. There are currently:
- 131 Medical Associates who are medical practitioners with an interest in allergy, but are not clinical immunology/allergy specialists.
- 163 Other Health Professional Associates, which includes 115 nurses and 43 dietitians
- 38 Scientist/Researcher Associates
- 65 Trainee Associates who are undergoing advanced physician training to become clinical immunology/allergy specialists
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 and Guidelines were first developed in 2003 and are regularly reviewed and updated, including amendments as a result of coronial inquiry recommendations.
These standardised plans and guidelines, as well as ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training courses (first developed in 2010) are used throughout Australia and New Zealand, to provide a consistent approach to prevention, recognition and emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.
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 and 2nd stages of implementation (2016-2019).
- 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.
- Two projects that have received AIFA seed funding grants have subsequently been awarded NHMRC funding.
- To date $130,000 in AIFA grants have been awarded.
It is important in the long term that ASCIA:
- Maintains existing funding and identifies new funding sources
- Reinforces reputation and strengthens brands
- Responds efficiently to supply and regulatory issues
- Maintains staff and increases capacity
- Retains and grows membership
The following ASCIA committees are standing committees of the ASCIA Council, with representation on Council:
- ASCIA Anaphylaxis committee
- ASCIA Drug Allergy 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/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.
ASCIA Update is a free e-newsletter that provides current news to the community about new or updated resources and other relevant information about allergy and other immune diseases. You can subscribe by simply entering your name and email address in the section under ASCIA Update on the right hand side of the ASCIA website homepage www.allergy.org.au
Subscriber details remain confidential. To review our privacy information go to www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/disclaimer-and-privacy#privacy
If you no longer wish to receive the ASCIA Update e-newsletter you can unsubscribe at any time.
Previous issues are available open access at www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/updates
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).
Since it was formed in 1990 ASCIA has grown into a world leading, innovative and active professional society with strong and progressive leadership. The current ASCIA President is Dr Brynn Wainstein and past ASCIA Presidents are listed at www.allergy.org.au/members/ascia-past-presidents
From 1990 to 2000, ASCIA built a strong foundation for the future, including:
- Hosting of ASCIA Annual Scientific Meetings.
- Successful bidding and hosting of the World Allergy Congress in 2000.
- Development of a new Strategic Plan in 1999-2000, with a focus on web based education.
From 2000 to 2010 ASCIA established an education focus, including:
- Implementation of a new Strategic Plan with an emphasis on open access web based educational resources for patients, consumers, carers and health professionals.
- Development of the first versions of ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis in 2003, that are now recognised as world leading resources and used throughout Australia and New Zealand.
- Development of the first version of ASCIA infant feeding advice in 2008, which did not recommend delayed introduction of allergenic foods to infants, based on emerging evidence from published studies.
- Management of ASCIA Annual Scientific Meetings since 2006.
- Development of the first ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training courses (for schools and childcare services) in 2010.
From 2010 to 2019 ASCIA has significantly expanded its education, training and advocacy. Highlights include:
- Development of a range of ASCIA e-training courses for health professionals and the community.
- New and updated ASCIA action plans, guidelines and other resources that promote high standards, available open access from ASCIA website.
- Collaborations to improve patient care, including TAPID (transplantation and PID) and AusPollen projects.
- Establishment of AIFA (Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia) in 2013, to fund and support research and raise awareness.
- Management of ASCIA Annual Conferences since 2014 (replacing the ASCIA Annual Scientific Meetings).
- Development of new ASCIA guidelines for infant feeding and allergy prevention in 2016, based on published evidence from the LEAP study.
- Development of the first National Allergy Strategy for Australia in 2015, in partnership with Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and key stakeholders www.allergy.org.au/national-allergy-strategy.
- Implementation of the National Allergy Strategy, with the launches of 250K Youth Project (for the 250,000 young people will severe allergies) www.250K.org.au, All About Allergens training for food service www.foodallergytraining.org.auand Nip allergies in the Bub food allergy prevention project www.preventallergies.org.au.
- Initiation of the ASCIA Education Project 2018-2020 with a significant redesign of the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au. The ASCIA website is a trusted and extremely popular source of information about allergy and other immune diseases. Access to more than 140 ASCIA educational resources was improved by redesigning the website to be more user and mobile device friendly.
- Updating of over 60 ASCIA patient articles www.allergy.org.au/patients/information in 2019.
- Development of new ASCIA Fast Facts in 2019, to provide concise, easy to understand and reliable information about allergy and other immune diseases www.allergy.org.au/patients/fast-facts.
- Hosting of ASCIA's 30th Annual Conference in September 2019, which provided an international standard of education and unique networking opportunities for ASCIA members. www.allergy.org.au/conferences/ascia-annual-conference#s2019
- Announcement of a national Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis at the ASCIA 2019 Conference. ASCIA is now working on a submission for this Inquiry. www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/info-updates/parliamentary-inquiry-into-allergic-diseases.
Another major highlight of 2019 was the purchase of a new purpose designed office for ASCIA, to enable the Society to sustain its operations and continue to grow. In July 2019 the new ASCIA office hosted its first ASCIA Council meeting.
For more information about specific items go to www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/ascia-initiatives
Content updated October 2019