Respiratory Care WA, previously known as The Asthma Foundation WA, was founded in 1964 from the personal concern of a group of dedicated people, led by Mrs. Judith Barton, to consider how they could help people affected by asthma.

Today we are a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing education, support and diagnosis for people with respiratory conditions including asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Our purpose is for everyone to have access to personalised respiratory support to live their best life.

2024 marks a significant milestone for Respiratory Care WA as we celebrate 60 years of helping Western Australians.

Take a walk down memory lane with us below:


The Asthma Foundation of Western Australia was formed in 1964, with a goal to help people with asthma. The inaugural meeting coordinated by Mrs Judith Barton (right).

In 1968 planning commenced to establish the Clinic Immunology Research Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital. AFWA’s initial contribution to this initiative was $90k.

The Immunology Research Unit was up and running a year later and AFWA helped raise a notable $50k grant to help fund its operations.

Mrs. Judith Barton

Mrs. Judith Barton.


The Foundation’s first paid staff member was appointed in 1970. Secretary Mr Ted Lennell was employed on a part-time basis to help manage the affairs.

In 1972 AFWA formed its first country branch in Albany and established its Eastern Goldfields branch.

In 1963 the Foundation’s first summer camp was up and running to teach children to understand and manage their respiratory condition.

AFWA’s Bunbury branch was founded the following year, and a Headquarters was established in the Perpetual Trustees building, 89 St Georges Terrace Perth.

The Children’s Asthma Research Fund was launched in 1975 in conjunction with Channel 7 Telethon with the aim to further research asthma.

In 1976 AFWA started offering “Asthmafit” swimming and exercise classes for adults.

In 1977 the Foundation’s first Walk-a-thon was organised by Sister Dorothy “Hoppie” Western, a Staff Rep for Student Nurses at Fremantle Hospital. This event had a relay format and several nurses involved. The Walk-a-thon became an annual event that ran for 15 years and raised a total of $80k.


AFWA’s first public Asthma Information Seminar was held in 1981 with 800 people in attendance.

By 1982 AFWA had 450 people attending swimming classes and 100 swim instructors volunteering their time each week.

Branches in Albany, Bunbury, Donnybrook, Eastern Goldfields, Geraldton, Mandurah and Kojonup were operating by 1982. New groups were also formed in Manjimup and Busselton.

The first Asthma Week was held in 1983. The opening event was a public seminar with 350 people in attendance.

By 1983 the Foundation had 1,400 valued members and had established two additional groups: Port Hedland and Karratha.

The Lords Challenge was held in 1985. This fundraising activity saw teams participate in cricket, soccer, hockey, netball and swimming at the Lords indoor complex.

In a very 80s fashion, we saw the inaugural “Life and Breath Aerobathon” whereby over 50 participants completed 5 hours of aerobics.

Then in 1989 we got our first computers!

Asthma Foundation receptionist Mrs Leanda Harder recorded the results of the Biggest Puffers in Perth competition run as a promotion in conjunction with Asthma Week 1984.

A boy with a spacer in the 1990s.


By 1991, AFWA had committed $160k to asthma research.

The Lords Indoor Sports Challenge in 1992 had a great turn out with 24 teams involved.

AFWA now had 12 Asthma Resource Centres servicing 8 regions across WA: Albany, Bunbury, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Mandurah, Northam and Narrogin.

Fast forward to 1994 and AFWA’s membership reached a new high of 4,000. 140 kids were attending asthma education camp and 600 kids enrolled in swimming classes.

Then in 1995 the Foundation got its first Major Sponsor: Home Building Society.

A public awareness campaign with animated character “Lewis Lung” was undertaken in 1995. Approximately 25,000 people consulted their GP following the successful campaign.

The first WA Asthma Expo was also held this year and 700 people attended. Free skin tests and lung function tests were provided at the event.

AsthmaSwim classes were doing well in 1996, with 500 kids participating each week.

The next significant milestone came in 1998 when Prime Minister John Howard formally listed asthma as the next National Health Priority.

We opened our Headquarters at 36 Ord Street, West Perth in 1999.

Early 2000s

The North Metropolitan Reduce Asthma Plan commenced in the year 2000. This initiative was funded by the Health Department.

By the end of 2001, 1,000 Western Australians had received in person asthma education and 2,500 had received information over the phone. 10,000 hits were recorded on AFWA’s website this year.

In 2002, 4,200 people were provided with asthma education, individually or over the telephone.

In 2003 AFWA helped 1,500 teachers learn how to manage asthma in a school environment. By this point 216 schools were registered as ‘Asthma Friendly’ in WA.

The Asthma Foundation WA’s Head Office In 2004.

Freeway Bike Hike For Asthma In 2005.

Mid 2000s

AFWA’s inaugural Bike Hike was held on 20 March 2005. It had a great turn out with 6,700 participants.

In 2006, “Bubble Day” was held as part of Asthma Week. Volunteers sold Bubble Day merchandise as a fundraising initiative.

The Health Services delivered 10,800 service activities this year.

Late 2000s

In 2008 AFWA delivered rural training in in Broome, Margaret River, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie.

That year the ‘Helping Kids Breathe Better’ 12-month pilot project also launched. Funded by Variety WA, it aimed to improve the management of asthma in children up to 12 years old.

In 2009, AFWA’s Indigenous Women’s Project received funding from Commonwealth Government for 3 years. Funding from Channel 7 Telethon Trust also helped to support the Breathe Better Project.

Asthma Week 2009.

Asthma Week 2009 with AFWA CEO John Gummer.

AFWA’s hot air balloon for World Asthma Day 2004.


The first HBF Run for a Reason was held in 2010, with AFWA being one of 6 beneficiary charities.

The RAC Freeway Bike Hike for Asthma was held in 2012, with approximately 9,000 riders joining in on the fun.

In that same year Channel 7 Telethon Trust funded AFWA’s mass media health campaign “Don’t let asthma hold you back”. This was an 8-week campaign that aired on Channel 7 and in the West Australian.

The iconic Asthma Foundation WA hot air balloon was then revealed on World Asthma Day in 2013.

AFWA celebrated 50 years of operation at the State Reception Centre in 2014.

In 2016 AFWA started running asthma and COPD telehealth services.

Then in 2018 we shortened our name to Respiratory Care WA.

2020s - Now.

2020 was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in WA and to better support the community we launched a COVID-19 helpline. That year we also commenced our Paediatric Respiratory Hub pilot program.

Respiratory Care WA’s first Wheezy Walk launched to the community in 2021. 99 people took over 14 million steps to raise awareness for Western Australians living with asthma.

Respiratory Care WA launched our Lung Function Testing service for adults in October 2022. We now provide Lung Function Testing, education and support in clinics across the state.

In 2023 Anne Hallam became the CEO of Respiratory Care WA. We continued service offerings and ran a Corporate Challenge fundraising event.

As for 2024? Well, it’s already been a massive year for us! We’ve travelled across the state with Binar Futures, launched our South West Respiratory Hub and a new CRM system.

Stay tuned for more exciting news and updates to come!

Members of the Respiratory Care WA team in 2024.