Opening of the 3rd Annual Donatelife Network Forum Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre 28 March 2012
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28 March 2012
I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting, and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.
To the DonateLife Network team, eye and tissue banking representatives, community organisation members and other delegates, welcome to the 2012 Annual DonateLife Network Forum.
To our international guests, Dr Laura Siminoff from the USA and Associate Professor Marti Manyalich from Spain, I extend a special welcome. We have much to gain from your presentations and participation over the course of the next two days.
This is the third annual Forum held since the establishment of both the Organ and Tissue Authority and the DonateLife Network, as part of the Australian Government’s National Reform Agenda to increase organ and tissue donation for transplantation.
I encourage all present to take full advantage of the opportunities provided at this year’s Forum:
- to contribute your experience and expertise;
- to share your insights; and, most importantly,
- to reflect, to network and to plan for the year ahead with a shared understanding of the priorities and desired outcomes.
Over the past year I have had the chance to meet many of you personally in Darwin, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle.
These visits have provided an opportunity to receive direct feedback on the effect of the Government’s reform and I am appreciative of the frankness with which feedback has been offered.
These visits are important and I look forward to meeting with more of you in the year ahead.
And as I have said in the past I am happy to speak with anyone in the network to hear what impediments there may be to reaching our donation targets, initiatives that are working well or anything else of significance, and in this respect my door remains open.
I’d like to focus on three key areas – our progress to date, key challenges, and future resourcing.
ProgressI have been encouraged by the organ and tissue donation figures in our first two full years of implementation. They equal or better the initial progress in equivalent years in leading countries and provide a solid platform from which we can build towards our national target of 23-25 donors per million of population within five to 10 years.
But one thing international comparisons demonstrate is that most countries do experience some fluctuation in growth throughout their reform.
Mid-point implementation reviewWe are committed to a sustained increase over the next decade and it was with this commitment in mind that I announced a Mid-Point Implementation Review at last year’s Forum.
The review was conducted by Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA) and included meetings with over 40 stakeholders and surveys sent to each member of the DonateLife Network. I thank all who contributed to this process, many of whom are here today.
The Report found that the national reform agenda, as endorsed by COAG in 2008, had achieved notable success by the end of 2010.
The report highlighted the important building blocks achieved in the first phase of the implementation of the reform agenda. These included the establishment of the Organ and Tissue Authority, the strong foundations laid down in hospitals through the formation of the DonateLife Network, and increased public awareness about the need for families to discuss and know each others’ donation decisions.
Overall, the report was positive and it detailed ten opportunities to further enhance the DonateLife Network. Some of these opportunities were already being addressed as part of the DonateLife Network’s strategic priorities for 2011-12. Others will be incorporated into the strategic priorities for the year ahead.
Importantly, the review reaffirmed the Authority’s stated focus for this next phase of implementation – driving and embedding clinical practice reform to better facilitate organ donation in our hospitals – as key to continued growth in donation rates.
In practice therefore, our target for 2012 is 16 donors per million population, which would equate to a 7% increase on the 2011 outcome of 14.9 donors per million population and a 57% increase over the baseline of 10.2 donors per million population.
We are on track. However, we know that we face very real challenges in sustaining and building on the increases achieved to date.
ChallengesThe two challenges I wish to focus on today are the implications for downstream transplant activity and the national consent rate.
In 2008 COAG endorsed the Australian Government’s proposal to implement, in partnership with state and territory governments, a world’s best practice approach to organ and tissue donation for transplantation.
Consistent with the 2008 COAG agreement, the Australian Government’s funding allocation is directed towards donation system improvements, with downstream services required to operate retrieval, tissue typing and transplantation services remaining the responsibility of jurisdictions.
Commonwealth/state responsibilities according to the national reform agenda are very clear. The Commonwealth has committed to provide resources to reform the national system for organ and tissue donation. The States are responsible for resourcing the consequent growth in transplant activity. This will necessarily entail proactive planning for ongoing increased transplant activity.
During 2010 and 2011, donation rates increased, as did the number of transplants.
The issue of increased demand for transplant services to match increasing donation rates was discussed at the February 2011 Health Ministers’ Conference. All state and territory Health Ministers committed to proactive planning and resourcing for tissue-typing, organ retrieval surgery and transplantation services provided in the public hospital system.
Our joint commitment is to work to achieving a national donation rate of 25 donors per million of population.
However one of the major impediments to achieving this rate is lifting the rate of family consent.
In 2010, Australia achieved a family consent rate of just 54% for donation after brain death.
Our goal is to achieve a national consent rate of 75%.
It is of course timely that the theme of this year’s Forum supports our clear priority for the DonateLife Network - “Communication and Consent”.
In its third year the DonateLife campaign has encouraged thousands of Australians to have a discussion about organ donation and talk about each other’s donation wishes.
However we are still not at the point that anywhere near enough Australians know what the wish of their family member is.
As part of this focus the Authority has been working throughout 2011 with the Gift of Life Institute (GoLI), in Philadelphia in the United States on an advanced training program and workshops for professionals in consent and sensitive communication.
GoLI was engaged by the Authority to deliver two of these workshops in Australia in September and October last year.
This month marked the commencement of the delivery of the Family Donation Conversations Core Module with workshops delivered by GoLI in Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne to 150 DonateLife clinical staff.
GoLI will undertake two further trips to Australia this year to deliver Family Donation Conversation workshops in Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin and Perth. Overall, a total of 390 clinical staff will benefit from this quality training program by mid-October. And I have been encouraged by feedback from the first workshops which has been overwhelmingly positive.
This workshop complements the Professional Education Package that has been developed by the Authority in consultation with DonateLife Network clinical staff as well as the Australasian Donor Awareness Program.
Taken as a suite, these three training programs will ensure we have not only some of the most highly trained professionals in the sector internationally, but the best trained individuals to be conducting family conversations on this sensitive topic.
Future fundingIn terms of future funding, the Australian Government committed $151million for the first four years of the national reform agenda, with funding identified in the out years post-June 2012.
The Australian reform model reflects international best practice adapted to the Australian clinical setting. International experience also tells us that implementation of a national clinical reform agenda takes time to build momentum and sustain outcomes.
The significant improvement to date in organ and tissue donation rates has been a collaborative effort and reflects both the collective commitment in this room, as well as the ongoing bipartisan support for the national reform agenda.
The Australian Government’s stated objective is to achieve a significant and sustained increase in Australia’s donation rate.
In order to achieve this, the reform agenda aims to:
- Increase the capability and capacity of the organ and tissue donation sector; and
- Improve community awareness of, and education in, organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
The high level of engagement in DonateLife Week indicates the impressive growth in the profile and presence of DonateLife in the community. Events were enriched by the active involvement of many organisations from across the Australian community, enabling us to reach new audiences and gain new advocates for the DonateLife community awareness campaign.
Our challenge now is to harness and maintain the momentum in the community and in the hospital setting, to remain focused on our priorities for the coming year and to continue to work together, as a consolidated, coordinated network of dedicated professionals whose work is saving and improving the lives of Australians.
Once again I thank you all for your involvement in this year’s Forum and your achievements to date. Thank you also to our international guests for agreeing to share your time and expertise with us. I look forward to working with you towards these goals over the next year.
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