Opening of 2nd Annual DonateLife Forum, Sydney
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I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting and I pay respect to the elders of their people, past and present.
Welcome to the DonateLife Network team, eye and tissue banking representatives, community sector representatives, international guests and other interested participants to this second Annual Forum “Connecting People, Transforming Lives”.
Congratulations on your achievements so far in implementing the Australian Government’s World’s Best Practice national reform package and the goal to increase organ and tissue donations for transplantation.
This year’s forum marks a number of firsts and provides valuable opportunities for taking the next steps.
Representatives from the eye and tissue sector - vital members of the team - are here for the first time. The recent establishment of the eye and tissue working group is an important next step to further integrate our eye and tissue and organ donation systems.
This is the first year where the non-government sector and Communications Charter signatories are represented in a session dedicated to the experience of the community and the non- government sector. This will provide you with valuable information about these community partners’ contribution to increasing Australia’s donation rate and an opportunity to learn more about the contribution of the social marketing and communications teams at the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority and in each Organ and Tissue Donation Agency around Australia.
This is the first year that a national hospital-based organ donation activity set will be available for analysis and discussion – congratulations to all those who have provided the data that informs this exercise. Robust national data forms a solid base for building, measuring and comparing performance.
In 2010, the first full year of implementation, the Organ and Tissue Authority and the DonateLife Network made good progress towards achieving the fundamental aims of the package. I fully support the ongoing focus on the delivery of the national reform package as endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments.
Australia achieved an historic 309 deceased organ donations - a 51 per cent increase on the average of the nine years to 2008 and a 25 per cent increase on the 2009 outcome.
This translated into 931 transplants in 2010 - an increase of more than 16 per cent compared to 2009.
Every one of you has contributed commitment and effort to this outstanding result which directly benefits all Australians.
The Australian Paired Kidney Exchange Program was introduced last year. Life- changing transplants have already been provided for Australians who’ve been successfully cross-matched with a generous living Australian donor.
Donor family support was further enhanced in 2010 with expert donor family support coordinators recruited to organ and tissue donation agencies across Australia. Establishing nationally consistent resources and processes at a particularly difficult time in their lives is a positive step towards providing effective donor family support.
Funding was made available to hospitals to contribute towards the costs of facilitating organ and tissue donation. This addressed a particular barrier that had previously prohibited donation in some circumstances. I’m told this has had a positive impact, encouraging hospitals to provide a ventilated bed, staff and operating theatre service to enable donation.
In 2010, the national protocol for donation after cardiac death was introduced and programs for Donation After Cardiac Death were introduced in Queensland and Western Australia, joining Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia to further extend Australia’s capacity to increase donation rates.
You have made a great start but there is still work to be done if Australia is to become a world leader in providing organ and tissue donation for transplantation for Australians. This forum is an ideal opportunity for you to network and plan for the year ahead.
As of February 2011, solid organ donation rates in Australia are tracking at a similar rate to last year and we all need to remain vigilant and committed to see a further lift above last years rates.
I urge you to take every opportunity at this forum and throughout the year ahead, to listen, learn, contribute and innovate, to continue increasing the number of transplantation opportunities.
It is important at this point in implementation of the national reform package, to pause and make an opportunity to consider our progress and look at what needs to be done to enhance implementation of our national reform package.
As you are aware, this program was endorsed by COAG in July 2008 and funding was originally allocated for an initial four year period.
This represents the Australian Government’s commitment to support improvements in the organ and tissue donation sector.
This is an ongoing funding commitment but it is prudent to assess implementation of the national reform package to identify its strengths as well as any opportunities to improve or enhance it.
I have this month, commissioned a mid-point implementation review to assess the impact of the national reform package and to help us plan for the future.
The independent review will consult with relevant stakeholders to ensure a range of views are sought.
Further information about the review will be forthcoming in the next short while and will be communicated to you all through the established channels.
I congratulate you on the work you have done to increase organ and tissue donation rates in Australia and urge you to continue your efforts to maintain the increase in donation rates already established.
I trust you will effectively use the next two days to continue to grow and strengthen the DonateLife network, so that life saving and transforming organ and tissue transplants can be available for all Australians in need.
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