Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk was held at a new location on the Patrick White Lawns between the National Library of Australia and Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on Wednesday 1 March 2017. Held in good weather conditions, it attracted close to 4,500 participants. A simultaneous shorter walk was also held around the National Library.
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 an individual’s donation decision and 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 each year.
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 occasion and had a great atmosphere with coloured balloons, t-shirts, hats, caps and show bags that 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 on display 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. Also speaking at the launch were the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation and Ms Meegan Fitzharris MLA, ACT Minister for Health. Ms Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Health also attended the launch ceremony reflecting bipartisan support. Speakers were introduced by Gift of Life President, David O’Leary.
Others participating in the walk included Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, Shadow Minister for Regional Communications and Services, Stephen Jones, 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. Teams of public servants, business people, health staff, large teams of school college and university students, including a large group of ANU medical students, participated.
Human Services staff were on hand to encourage participants to sign on to the Australian Organ Donor Register run by Medicare. Lions Club of Canberra Belconnen served a free healthy BBQ breakfast to participants after the walk.
The walk continues to draw large numbers. It has grown from 1800 in 2011 to 5,700 in 2016. This year in 2017 in its new location it attracted 4,500 participants. This demonstrates continuing 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 the walk next year!