Senator the Hon Fiona Nash ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH SPEECH National Launch DonateLife Week 2014


Senator the Hon Fiona Nash
National Launch DonateLife Week 2014
NSW State Library, Macquarie Street Sydney
14 February 2014


I recognise the traditional owners of the land upon which we gather today – the Gadigal people – and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to launch this year’s DonateLife Week here at the New South Wales State Library – a world leading library. Among its collections we are able to trace the development of our society and find inspiration in the records and stories of individuals and their families.

Today we have been moved and inspired by the experience of two young Australians whose stories resonate with all of us - as individuals and family members.

I thank you, Rory, for sharing your very personal story of the sudden tragic loss of your beloved mother Julie - and of her incredible legacy - enabled by you and your family through your support of her decision to be an organ and tissue donor. 

Here today we honour Julie’s life and her legacy of the gift of life to others. We also honour the legacy of so many other generous Australians, who are represented here today by their families.

I thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story of adversity, hope and courage. Your experience affirms the remarkable transformation that is made possible by the gift of a transplant, and the way in which a life saved through a transplant transforms a family.

Here today, we acknowledge the uncertainty faced by Australians on transplant waiting lists - and their families - who are waiting for that all important phone call that will bring a second chance at life.

Led by the Organ and Tissue Authority, DonateLife Week is a week for families, communities, workplaces and friends to come together to reflect - on the lives transformed through the generous act of organ and tissue donation and - on our own capacity to save or heal the lives of others.

DonateLife Week serves as a reminder for every Australian family to discuss and share our donation decisions; to talk about what you want to have happen should you suffer sudden, unexpected or accidental death.

This is a conversation that prepares your loved ones so that they can confirm and support your decision at a time of intense grief and shock. 

This is also a conversation that can save the lives of others.

Families who have discussed and know the donation decisions of their loved one are much more likely to uphold that decision.

The theme for this year’s DonateLife Week is simple and clear:

Have the conversation, have the chat that saves lives.

Discover, decide and discuss organ and tissue donation.

During DonateLife Week, ‘have the chat’ events will take place in communities, shopping centres, hospitals and sporting clubs across Australia, providing a dedicated time for Australians to learn and talk about organ and tissue donation.

These community partnerships are vital to supporting our national community education about organ and tissue donation.

And so I am especially pleased today to announce that corporate Australia is joining the national conversation about organ and tissue donation.

In launching the DonateLife Corporate Partners initiative, I am delighted to welcome the inaugural partners who will champion organ and tissue donation:

  • The ANZ Bank, represented here today by Ms Sue Dillon;
  • BUPA, represented by Dr Paul Bates;
  • Australia Post, represented by Mr Philip Prior;
  • Linfox, represented by Mr Greg Thomas; and,
  • The Australian Automobile Association, represented by Mr James Goodwin.


To each of you and the corporate businesses you represent, we welcome you and we thank you for coming on board.

Representing some of Australia’s largest and most recognisable brands, you are leading the way in employee and customer education on the importance of organ and tissue donation.

With a combined workforce of nearly 75,000 Australians, and an even further potential reach through your customers, your contribution is highly significant.

By hosting dedicated ‘have the chat’ events in workplaces around the country you are providing employees time to learn about organ and tissue donation.

In sharing and distributing information to your employees and customers through publications and social media channels, you are helping your workforce understand why family discussion is so important.

You are equipping your employees and customers with information to have the conversation at home with their loved ones.

Your enthusiasm, commitment and support in partnering with us to encourage corporate Australia to talk about organ and tissue donation is to be commended.

You set a strong example to your corporate peers and I encourage the broader corporate and business sector to come on board and support this great initiative.

The Australian Government is proud of the progress made in increasing our country’s organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes. This programme is supported by all Australian governments – both state and federal.

We are committed to implementing this reform programme, to continue increasing capability and capacity within the health system and raising awareness within communities across Australia.

Our reform programme builds on world best practice to establish a national approach to specialist clinical practice in organ and tissue donation and support for donor families.

Our work is being undertaken in close consultation with experts from around the world; in particular, Croatia, Spain and the USA.

This work was cemented when we hosted an international Congress in Sydney last year which brought together world leaders in organ and tissue donation.

In 2013, 1,122 Australians were given a second chance at life because of the generosity of 391 organ donors and their families.

This represents a 58% increase in deceased organ donors since 2009, the year the Organ and Tissue Authority and DonateLife Network was established.

The growth in organ donation and transplantation outcomes since 2009 has resulted in an additional 314 Australians, or one in four organ transplant recipients, receiving a transplant in 2013.

The families of organ and tissue donors are to be thanked and commended for upholding the decision of their loved one and giving others the gift of life.

I acknowledge the commitment of the DonateLife Network - our frontline clinical staff - as well as the professional bodies and community organisations on your achievements to date.

I commend the commitment, care and professionalism of our transplant sector – the scientists, doctors and transplant coordinators who continue to uphold Australia’s standing as a world leader in transplant outcomes.

A best practice approach to increase organ and tissue donation rates also requires consistent, sustained engagement with the public. 

It is encouraging that three in four Australians have now discussed organ and tissue donation with family members.

At the same time, 47% of Australians do not know the donation decision of their loved ones.

As many of you will know, the opportunities for organ donation are rare.

Only around one per cent of people who die in hospital can be considered for organ donation. 

Many more have the opportunity to donate tissue.

In many cases, when a family does not agree to donation it is simply because they do not know what their loved one had wanted.

The opportunity for organ donation is so rare – so we all need to be ready to respond when the opportunity for donation arises.

As we count down the days to DonateLife Week 2014, which will take place from Sunday 23 February to Sunday 3 March, I ask you to think about how you can participate and contribute to having the chat that saves lives.

Visit the DonateLife website to download the DonateLife Week Tool Kit.  Most importantly in DonateLife Week talk to your family, friends and your colleagues at work – to have the chat that saves lives.

Thank you.



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the facts about organ and
tissue donation

  • Frequently asked questions
  • Understanding donation


and register on the Australian
Organ Donor Register

  • Register your decision


your donation decision with family and friends

  • Who needs to know?
  • How to start the discussion