Gift of Life’s annual DonateLife Walk was held for the 13th time at Regatta Point across the bridges around Lake Burley in Canberra on Wednesday 13 February 2019. It was also the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and the national DonateLife campaign.
Held on a mild sunny morning with a light breeze, it attracted around 5,000 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 sought to promote a discussion with family and close friends about their organ donation decision and, importantly, to encourage participants to sign 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 the Department of Human Services managed a stall enabling them to talk to participants and to encourage them to sign onto the Register – accessible online or by completing a brochure at donatellife.gov.au.
The event was sponsored by the Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and supported by the ACT Government. It promoted the national campaign for organ and tissue donation and registration.
As usual, it was a bright and joyful occasion with a great atmosphere. T-shirts, hats, caps and show bags 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. Donor families and recipients were interviewed in a live broadcast by 2CC.
The Walk was launched by the Governor- General His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC and the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Senior Australians and Aged Care who is also responsible for Organ and Tissue Authority. The ACT Government was represented by Tara Cheyne, Member for Ginninderra. They were introduced by Gift of Life President, David O’Leary.
Others participating in the Walk included Member for Canberra Ms Gai Brodtmann MP, the CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority Lucinda Barry, a range of other MPs and ACT MLAs and a number of departmental Secretaries and heads of agencies. Teams from government departments and agencies, health staff, business, large teams of school college and university students, including ANU medical students, and from ADFA participated.
Large numbers of students from St Clare’s College, Merici College, Narrabundah College and Canberra Girls Grammar School took part in the walk.
The Lions Club Canberra Belconnen served a free healthy BBQ breakfast to participants at the completion of the Walk.
The many thousands of participants at the walk again this demonstrates the growing as well as substantial understanding and support for organ and tissue donation in the Canberra region.
The Walk has now become a major Canberra event and is amongst the largest community events in Australia in support of organ and tissue donation and the national DonateLife campaign as well as the Australian Organ Donor Register. Make sure you come along and join the Walk in 2020!