Gift of Life’s annual DonateLife Walk was held for the 14th time at Rond Terrace at the bottom of ANZAC Parade beside Lake Burley in Canberra on Wednesday 26 February 2020. It was a major community event in support of the national DonateLife campaign.
Held on an increasingly cloudy morning and with a striking rainbow appearing overhead, it attracted around 2,000 participants. The main walk went across the two bridges and around the lake. A simultaneous shorter walk was also held around Commonwealth Park.
The objective was to promote community awareness of the need for increased organ and tissue donation. It promoted a discussion with family about their organ donation decision and, importantly, encouraged people to register on to the Australian Organ Donor Register. This is vital in encouraging a much higher consent rate for organ and tissue donation and thereby saving many more Australian lives.
A team from Services Australia managed a stall and with support from staff from DonateLife ACT talked to participants encouraging them to sign onto the Register – accessible online at donatelife.gov.au.
The event was sponsored by the Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and supported by the ACT Government.
The event had a bright and enthusiastic atmosphere. T shirts, hats, caps and show bags were supplied to a large number of participants free. Life-sized photos of prominent hospital transplant staff and people involved in the transplant community were displayed to provide context. There was wide media including TV coverage.
The Walk was launched by the Minister for Regional Health who is responsible for the Organ and Tissue Authority the Hon Mark Coulton MP and ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA. They were introduced by Gift of Life President, David O’Leary.
Others participating in the Walk included the Co- Chairs of the newly formed Parliamentary Friends of Organ and Tissue Donation, Dr Anne Webster MP and Dr Mike Freelander MP, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Services, the Hon Catherine King MP, the ACT Government Whip Tara Cheyne MLA, the CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority Lucinda Barry, Members of the OTA Governing Board, the CEO of ACT Health Services Bernadette McDonald and representatives of visiting community organisations from around Australia. Teams from government departments and agencies, health staff, business, and large numbers of school college students (St Clare’s College, Merici College, Daramalan College, Marist College and Canberra College) as well as university students including a team of ANU medical students participated in the walk.
The Lions Club Canberra Belconnen served a free BBQ breakfast to participants on completion of the Walk.
The thousands who participated demonstrated the growing as well as substantial understanding and support for organ and tissue donation in the Canberra region. Promotion was given for more people to sign on to Register now.
The Walk has become a major Canberra community event and is amongst the largest in Australia in support of organ and tissue donation and registering on the Australian Organ Donor Register. Make sure you come along and join the Walk in 2021!
A transcript of Minister Mark Coulton’s media interview at the Walk is here and a media release issued the same day provides details of organ and tissue donation outcomes in 2019, available here.