Gift of Life's annual DonateLife Walk was held for the twelfth time at Regatta Point, Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on Wednesday 28 February 2018. Held on a cool morning with fog over the lake, it attracted around 4,500 participants.
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 signing 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 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 Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation. The ACT Government was represented by Tara Cheyne, Member for Ginninderra and Government Whip. Also attending the launch was Ms Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, reflecting wide political support for this important cause. They were introduced by Gift of Life President, David O'Leary.
Others participating in the Walk included Assistant Ministers Luke Hartsuyker and Damian Drum, Member for Canberra Ms Gai Brodtmann MP, the CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority Lucinda Barry, Secretary of the Department of Human Services Renee Leon, 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, participated.
Students from St Clares College, Merici College and Canberra Girls Grammar School generously helped our event manager, Morris Walker, with arrangements for the walk.
Lions Club Canberra Belconnen served a free BBQ breakfast to participants at the completion of the walk.
The thousands of participants at the walk again demonstrates the substantial understanding and growing 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. Make sure you come along and join the Walk in 2019!