National program

On 2 July 2008, the Australian Government announced a national program to implement a world’s best practice approach to increase organ and tissue donation for transplantation.

The OTA leads the national program in partnership with states and territories, the national DonateLife Network, donation and transplantation clinical sectors, eye and tissue banks, and the community.

Our purpose

To save and improve the lives of more Australians through optimising every potential organ and tissue donation for transplantation.

Our objectives

  • Objective 1: Increase organ and tissue donation for transplantation
  • Objective 2: Increase consent rates for deceased organ and tissue donation
  • Objective 3: Provide specialist support for families involved in the donation process
  • Objective 4: Enhance systems and processes to support donation and transplantation

Under the national program, all governments have committed to increasing Australia’s organ and tissue donation rates, with a focus on delivering best clinical practice in hospitals and encouraging Australians to register and let their family know they want to be a donor.

Since the national program was introduced in 2009 there has been an overall trend of significant growth in organ donation rates, which has resulted in more than 14,000 Australians receiving a lifesaving transplant.

Evidence from comparable countries shows that a coordinated national approach that focuses on clinical practice reform is the most effective way to improve organ donation and transplantation rates.

International experience shows that the key to achieving a sustained increase in organ donation is a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to clinical practice reform.

This has been implemented in Australia, led by the OTA in collaboration with DonateLife medical and nursing specialists, who work with their clinical peers and hospital executives to identify and support potential donors, improve donation consent rates, and coordinate organ retrieval for transplant recipients.

Key achievements

Australia has a nationally coordinated donation system based on world’s best practice:

  • a DonateLife agency coordinating donation in each state and territory
  • over 265 donation medical specialist doctors and nurses supporting 95 hospitals across Australia
  • a nationally agreed clinical donation program embedded in hospitals, with a reporting framework to drive best practice.
  • a national education program for donation specialists who coordinate the program in hospitals and support families in the donation process.
  • the National DonateLife Family Support Service, providing nationally consistent support that is respectful and responsive to the needs of each family
  • a new world leading Australian organ matching system, OrganMatch, facilitating optimal matching of donor organs to those on the transplant waitlist
  • the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange Program, facilitating living donor kidney transplants for donor-recipient pairs that are incompatible
  • the national Donor Family Study to survey the experiences of donor families which is used to further enhance care.
  • national messaging with key campaigns, grants and partnerships – increasing awareness of donation with the call to action to talk to your family and register
  • a streamlined channel to register as a donor – only taking a minute.