Gift of Life’s 10th DonateLife Walk 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gift of Life’s 10th anniversary DonateLife Walk was held at Regatta Point and around Lake Burley in Canberra on Wednesday 24 February 2016. Held in perfect weather conditions on a warm sunny morning, it attracted more than 5,700 participants. A simultaneous shorter walk was also held around Commonwealth Park.

The objective was to promote wider community awareness of the need for increased organ and tissue donation. It also sought to promote a discussion with family and close friends of their donation decision and of the importance of signing on to the Australian Organ Donor Register. This is vital in encouraging a much higher consent rate for donation and thereby saving many more Australian lives. The theme was “have the chat that saves lives - ask and know your loved ones’ donation decision - Discover, Decide, Discuss organ and tissue donation.”

The event was sponsored by the Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and supported the national campaign promoting organ and tissue donation.

As usual, it was a bright and joyful occasion with a great atmosphere with coloured balloons, T shirts, hats, caps and show bags which were supplied to a large number of the participants free. Life-sized photos of prominent hospital transplant staff and people involved in the transplant community were displayed to provide context.

The Walk was launched by the Governor-General of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d) accompanied by Lady Cosgrove, Senator Fiona Nash the Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation and Ms Meegan Fitzharris, ACT Assistant Minister for Health. Also attending the launch ceremony was Ms Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Health reflecting bipartisan support. They were introduced by Gift of Life President, David O’Leary.

Others participating in the Walk included the Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, Member for Canberra Ms Gai Brodtmann MP, the CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority Felicity McNeill, a range of other MPs and ACT MLAs and a number of departmental Secretaries and heads of agencies. Members of the Brumbies rugby union team took part. Teams of public servants, business people, health staff, large teams of school college and university students, including ANU medical students, participated.

Human Services staff were on hand to encourage participants to sign on to the Australian Organ Donor Register. Lions Club Canberra Belconnen served a free BBQ breakfast to participants after the walk.

The walk continues to grow in size each year. It has grown from 1800 in 2011, 2400 in 2012, 3,100 in 2013, over 4000 in 2014, over 5,000 in 2015 and this year more than 5,700. This demonstrates growing as well as substantial understanding and support for organ and tissue donation in the Canberra region.

A decade on, the Walk has now become a Canberra institution and amongst the largest community events in Australia in support of organ and tissue donation. Make sure you come along and join in next year!

Minister Congratulates Canberrans

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Minister for Rural Health (with responsibility for organ donation matters), Senator The Hon Fiona Nash, has today congratulated Gift of Life on the tenth annual DonateLife walk around Lake Burley Griffin.

The Minister thanked the more than 5,700 participants, noting that the Gift of Life DonateLife Walk serves as an important reminder to register to be an organ donor.

Organ donation rates in the Australian Capital Territory are exceptional at 21.2 donors per million, which is above the national rate of 18.3 donors per million.

Read the Minister's press release here.

2015 Gift of Life Awards for Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness

Friday, December 11, 2015

An extraordinary group of individuals were recognised on Monday 30 November by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr for their outstanding contributions in raising awareness of organ and tissue donation.

The awards acknowledge the exceptional role played by those in the community, health and government sectors in promoting organ and tissue donation. Gift of Life congratulates this year’s recipients:

  • A Special Award for Leadership and Support – Katy Gallagher, former ACT Chief Minister – for her commitment to raising awareness for organ and tissue donation and transplantation that has been a foundation for strong community awareness and support in the ACT for this important cause.
  • The Terry Connolly Award for Healthcare Leadership and Innovation – Professor Peter MacDonald and Associate Professor Kumud Dhital of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney – for their leading roles in pioneering and carrying out, in 2014, the world’s first successful ‘dead heart’ transplant operation whereby hearts are revived after circulatory death and transferred to recipients, enabling a major increase in the pool of hearts available for transplantation.
  • The Ben Wiseman Award for Policy Advocacy and Support – Dr Helen Watchirs OAM – for her outstanding contribution and continued support for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Following the tragic death of her husband Terry Connolly, Dr Watchirs has played a pivotal role in lifting public recognition for the cause as well as contributing to government policy in this area.
  • The Jenny Deck Award for Community Support – Marjorie Taylor – for being at the forefront in promoting organ and tissue donation since her daughter – Annette Taylor – became the ACT’s first organ donor 40 years ago.
  • The Annette Taylor Award for Support from Schools – Canberra Girls Grammar School – for its enthusiastic and continuing involvement as well as its assistance at Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk.

In addition, the Angus Fairbairn-Cody Award was presented to two young kidney recipients, Harry Irvine and Ava Bancroft, whose parents spoke about their organ donation experience to help inspire the community to become organ and tissue donors.

Gift of Life President David O’Leary thanked award recipients for their dedication in increasing organ donation and transplantation and in raising awareness for organ and tissue donation. “Community advocates such as those we’re recognising play a pivotal role in spreading awareness and generating community support and understanding,” Mr O’Leary said. “With only about 60 per cent of families currently giving consent for organ and tissue donation to proceed, it’s important to encourage discussion amongst families and friends who could ultimately make the decision about your donation wishes and for them to also sign onto the Australian Organ Donor Register.

“The ACT has a good donation rate by Australian standards, but much more needs to be done to raise awareness amongst the community and that their decision to be a donor can save the lives of up to 10 people,” Mr O’Leary said.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Gift of Life is pleased to join with DonateLife to acknowledge organ and tissue donors and their families. A national day of recognition will be held on 22 November 2015.

The day provides an opportunity for all Australians to honour organ and tissue donors and their families by simply saying ‘thank you’.

Families play a crucial role in the donation process because they are asked to confirm the donation decision of their loved one and provide vital health information. Families also help the broader community understand the donation process by generously sharing their stories with the public.

On DonateLife Thank You Day, we invite you to say thank you to all deceased and living donors and their families, whose gift of organ and tissue donation saves and transforms lives.

More Australian Lives Transformed

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Assistant Minister for Health, Senator The Hon Fiona Nash, has announced a record year for organ and tissue donation in 2013.

Read more here  . . .

Organ and Tissue Donation Reform in Australia

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Australia’s Government’s organ and tissue donation reform program – under the DonateLife banner – began in 2009. Four years on, and with the ISODP international organ donation congress having just been held in Sydney from 21-24 November 2013, it is timely to assess progress achieved thus far.  Read more  . . .

Gift of Life Becomes Community Hero

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On 7 August 2013, Gift of Life received a $1,000 award from the Calwell, Curtin, Jerrabomberra and Wanniassa Community Bank branches, linked to the Bendigo Bank, as part of their 100 Community Heroes campaign launched in honour of their 10th anniversary and Canberra's Centenary.

Gift of Life's award reflects its contribution to the ACT community in promoting organ and tissue donation awareness and in particular its annual walk in February.

Gift of Life Welcomes Support For Live Kidney Donation

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Gift of Life strongly supports the Australian Government’s initiative to assist organ transplantation by facilitating live donation.

The new program will enable people who are alive to donate an organ, mostly a kidney, to a relative or close friend by helping to reduce the significant financial burden involved while they are off work which to date has precluded them from becoming a donor.

Read more  . . .

The DonateLife Book of Life

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The DonateLife Book of Life: A collection of life-saving and life-changing stories from people touched by organ and tissue donation contains stories of hope about donation written by everyday Australians.

DonateLife Guide For Community Speakers

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Hon. Catherine King, MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, recently released a new resource to help Australians overcome barriers to discussing organ and tissue donation.  In launching the resource, Ms King said that it will be a valuable resource.  She noted that it was developed by Gift of Life with a community awareness grant.

Community speakers are urged to undertake volunteer training through DonateLife ACT.  A copy of the resource is available at the DonateLife website


Register for Organ Donation

Are you registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register?  Unless you’ve got one of these blue cards, you’re not registered.  Click here to register on line or call 1800 777 203.

Tax Deductible Gifts

Gift of Life Incorporated – a not for profit non-governmental organisation – based in the ACT engages in a range of activities each year in support of organ and tissue donation.

Gift of Life enjoys tax deductible gift status with the Australian Taxation Office for contributions received in excess of $2.00.

Those in the community wishing to contribute funds to support Gift of Life’s activities may do so either by sending a cheque addressed to Gift of Life Incorporated, PO Box 9511, Deakin, ACT 2600 or by direct transfer to Gift of Life Incorporated’s bank account with the NAB BSB 082-980 Account Number 495688467.


Terry Connolly

Justice Terry Connolly died suddenly in the early morning of 25 September 2007 on Red Hill, having cycled to the top as part of his exercise routine.  He was a Supreme Court Judge since 2003, and Master since 1996.  Terry was the Member for Molonglo in 1990-1995 and served as the ACT Attorney-General and Minister in various portfolios, including Health.  He and his family have lived in Canberra for many years and he was a popular Canberran.

More importantly, Terry was a husband, father, son and, following his death, a tissue donor.

Terry’s wife, Dr Helen Watchirs, says that she and Terry had discussed their wishes in relation to organ donation.  This meant that at the dreadful time of death, she was clear on his wishes.  Terry’s donation to the improvement of other lives has given Helen and his daughters a sense of contribution, and has helped make up for a life cut short.