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President's Report - 2014/15

Gift of Life has continued to pursue its main priorities: policy advocacy as well

as promotion of greater community awareness and education though events

and activities aimed at increasing organ and tissue donation.


We have raised a number of issues with the Government such as “soft” First

Person Consent, extended criteria for organ transplantation, equity of access

to donated organs, living donation and assistance with the logistic costs of

transport and accommodation for those from regional areas re-locating to

cities for transplantation.


Membership of the Organ and Tissue Advisory Council and the NHMRC

Expert Group examining ethical guidelines for organ transplantation has

offered excellent opportunities for additional input and influence. We also

participated in the OTA Communications Charter signatories meeting and the

DonateLife ACT community and consumer advisory committee.


We have organised a range of events and activities. Gift of Life’s DonateLife

Walk in February 2014 during DonateLife Week attracted high profile

representation for the launch and over 4,000 participants. The most recent

event on 25 February 2015 – sponsored by the Organ and Tissue Authority -

attracted around 5,000 participants and was launched for the first time by the

Governor-General as a major feature of the national DonateLife campaign.

Gift of Life’s Awards for ACT citizens who have made a major contribution to

community awareness of organ and tissue donation, presented by the ACT

Chief Minister, involved around 80 guests in November 2014 at the Legislative

Assembly. Both the Walks and the Awards attracted strong media coverage.


We also took part in orientation week at the ANU and Market Day at the

University of Canberra and addressed third year medical students at the ANU

in a joint presentation with the OTA and DonateLife ACT.


We have continued to pursue closer links to the ACT business community and

are now seeking to establish links with the newly formed Canberra Business

Chamber.


In 2014, while the number of Australians who donated fell by 3%, the

conversion rate increased resulting in the overall number of transplant

recipients falling by a small number. This reinforces the need to lift Australia’s

rate of organ and tissue donation in future - in particular, to lift family consent

rates to a much higher level as well as to examine opportunities to expand the

donor pool. There is a need to encourage people to discuss organ and tissue

donation with their family and close friends and to ask and know each other’s

donation decision. It is also important to register that decision on the

Australian Organ Donor Register. Significant progress is being achieved

through the Government’s reform program, but this process will take time and

much more remains to be done.