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President's Report 2009/10

It is an honour to present the 2009-10 President’s Report for Gift of Life Inc.

Since its last Annual General Meeting, Gift of Life has been busier than ever pursuing its main priorities, namely policy advocacy, promotion of greater community awareness and education in efforts to boost organ donation rates in the ACT and surrounding districts of NSW as well as nationally.

Following the Australian Government's decision in July 2008 to provide over $150 million in funding to promote increased organ donation in Australia and to try and establish Australia as a world leader in this field, the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority was established in Canberra in January 2009. This has led to a significant change of orientation for community groups such as Gift of Life - no longer lobbying the Government to play a more direct role and to provide funding, but rather cooperating closely in suggesting the best approaches and complementing its activities by reinforced efforts in the areas of community awareness and education.

The attached statement prepared recently by the outgoing President, Anne Cahill Lambert, lists the main activities undertaken by Gift of Life volunteers throughout the last financial year. Of course, the highest profile activities were the national launch of Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week and the ORGANised walk involving around 2,000 people from around the region, in both cases with the involvement of the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. In addition, the Chief Minister of ACT's awards involved over 100 guests. These were supplemented by a range of other activities including fun runs and golf days and a range of speaking engagements. Collectively, these represent an impressive effort.

On the policy advocacy front, Gift of Life raised with then Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mark Butler MP, a range of issues including funding support for our activities, his direct involvement in the Launch and the Walk and a range of issues including NSW driving licences, increasing live donation, greater consistency nationally in procedures for allocating organs, assistance with transport and accommodation costs for those from rural areas.

Gift of Life represtenatives played an active part in two seminars organised by the Transplant Society of Australia and New Zealand involving clinicians and community representatives in developing national protocols on eligibility and allocation of donor organs and tissue. A "consensus" document emerged from this process.

Over the past six months prior to the AGM, Gift of Life representatives have become increasingly involved with both the Authority and DonateLife ACT and have established

closer links with them. Examples of this include our involvement with the Authority in preparing a resource package for community volunteers to assist in preparation for speaking engagements, aimed at boosting numbers prepared to support organ donation.

Likewise, senior DonatelifeACT represenatives now participate actively at our Board meetings as well as at recent strategic planning sessions which also involved the CEO of Transplant Australia. Gift of Life representatives have recently been invited to take part in advisory groups being established by DonateLife ACT - community advice, clinical and awareness raising and education.

This all represents a substantial agenda which will be continued over the coming year. While organ donation rates in Australia are showing a steady and sustained increase during 2010, there is still a considerable gap between the number of recipients waiting and donor organs provided. The need to encourage individuals to discuss their wishes with there families remains paramount - as family consent is critical for donations to proceed.

David O'Leary


Gift of Life Inc

16 November 2010

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