It is my pleasure to be here this morning for the NSW Parliamentary Launch of the 13th Australian Transplant Games.
The Games are a touching tribute to the many donor families who bravely made the decision to donate their loved ones' organs and tissues at a time of great sadness.
The Games provide a unique opportunity to celebrate the life-transforming gift of organ and tissue donation.
They are also a wonderful opportunity to encourage more Australians to discuss their organ and tissue donation wishes.
Seventy-seven per cent (77%) of Australians have now discussed their organ and tissue donation wishes with family members, with 58% of these having discussed their wishes in the past 12 months.
We know how important these conversations are, because organ and tissue donation is far more likely to proceed when they have.
I therefore commend Transplant Australia for demonstrating the benefits of organ and tissue donation through this special event, which gives transplant recipients an opportunity to celebrate their second chance at life.
And I admire those who are about to embark upon their Transplant Games journey.
By having the courage to share your stories and experiences, you are reaching out to the community and making it okay to discuss this important topic.
I also thank the numerous volunteers who kindly give their time to help make this event possible.
I'd like to briefly mention the National Reform Agenda, and of course acknowledge the New South Wales Government's announcement of its strategy to increase donation rates in this state.
In particular I'd like to welcome the decision to decommission the Roads and Maritime Services Register. We know that for too long this has been an impediment to lifting rates in this state.
So I congratulate Minister Skinner on this commitment and look forward to working with the New South Wales government as its strategy is implemented.
More broadly, in 2011, the second full year of implementation of the National Reform Agenda, a total of 1,009 Australians benefited from the legacy of 337 Australian deceased organ donors.
This is the highest donation and transplantation outcome since national records began, and something we should be proud of.
To sustain and increase these outcomes, we are increasing capability and capacity within the health system to maximise donation rates; and, we are raising community awareness and stakeholder engagement to promote organ and tissue donation.
The key message today is that we need to ensure every Australian family is well prepared to answer the question, 'did they want to be an organ and tissue donor?.
The sudden and traumatic death of a loved one is not the best time for family members to first be faced with this question.
Being prepared and having this important conversation could mean that up to ten lives are transformed. What an incredible legacy to leave behind. It is this legacy that is celebrated by the Transplant Games.
So to all athletes participating in the 2012 Australian Transplant Games, I wish you every success. I'm sure you will have plenty of amazing experiences to share at the finish line and on the sidelines.
I would once again like to pay tribute to all the volunteers who are such an important part of this event and I look forward to seeing you all again in Newcastle in a few weeks.