Launch of Donatelife Week And ‘Book Of Life’ - National Library of Australia - Canberra - Friday 18 February 2011
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E&OEI recognise the traditional owners on the land upon which we gather today – the Ngunnawal people – and wish to pay my respects to their elders past and present and those who may be present here today.
- Her Excellency the Governor General of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce AC;
- Mr Sam Chisholm, Chairman of the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Advisory Council;
- Ms Jane Halton, Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing;
- Ms Yael Cass, CEO, Organ and Tissue Authority;
- Dr Gerry O’Callaghan, National Medical Director, Organ and Tissue Authority;
- Elizabeth Flynn, General Manager, Organ and Tissue Authority;
- Our host, Dr Warwick Cathro, Acting Director General of the National Library of Australia.
- A special welcome to Robyn Gough – a donor family member who will later tell us her story and that of her family around organ and tissue donation;
- Welcome to you all, donor families, recipients and supporters alike.
During DonateLife Week, which will run from this Sunday the 20th of February to Sunday the 27th, community events will take place across Australia promoting the message that - ‘Any day is a good day to talk about organ and tissue donation – especially this week, because it’s DonateLife Week’.
DonateLife Week is part of the Australian Government’s national DonateLife awareness campaign, to increase family discussion about personal donation wishes. What an important discussion to have.
Families are fundamental in the organ and tissue donation process because, in Australia, family consent is always sought before donation can proceed.
The reality is that most Australians support organ and tissue donation, and 77 per cent of us are willing to become donors.
Unfortunately, however, our consent rate is low with just 60 per cent of families giving consent for organ and tissue donation to proceed.
The most important thing that helps a family’s decision is knowing the wishes of the deceased.
But, again, 40 per cent of us do not know the donation wishes of our loved ones.
The DonateLife awareness campaign launched in May 2010 produced a very positive 10 per cent increase in family discussion about each other’s donation wishes.
But we started from a low benchmark of just 48 per cent and still have a way to go.
Our latest research shows that half of that increase has been retained;
It also shows that, among those families who have talked about donation, the level of memorable discussion – of the kind that will make a difference if a consent is requested - has remained very close to the post-campaign high of 83 per cent.
It’s now 81 per cent.
As you know, in 2008 the Government committed to a $151 million national reform program for organ and tissue donation.
Last year was the first full year of implementing this world’s best practice approach.
Importantly, this includes the DonateLife Network of more than 242 professionals in 76 hospitals and eight DonateLife Agencies in each state and territory, specialising in organ and tissue donation;
As a result we achieved the highest rate of donations ever in this country.
In 2010 a record 309 deceased Australians donated their organs and tissue for transplant - saving or improving the lives of 931 Australians.
This is a credit to the generous donors and to the families who honoured the wishes of their deceased loved ones.
The challenge now is to sustain the historic increase, and to build on it.
We need to normalise the subject of organ and tissue donation; to let Australians know it is OK to talk about what you and your loved ones want to happen if one of you dies.
It’s a simple but necessary conversation we all need to have so that we are prepared, if we are ever in the situation where a decision on donation is required.
Every Australian can be part of this national initiative – by taking time to talk about being a donor, discover the facts, register their decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register, and most importantly, discuss their decision with their next of kin.
To inspire and motivate Australians to start talking, I am pleased to launch a national television commercial that will be broadcast throughout DonateLife Week.
[television commercial shown]
I am also now delighted and honoured to announce that the awareness program will be supported by the inaugural DonateLife Ambassador - Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
I now introduce our Inaugural DonateLife Ambassador, Her Excellency the Governor-General.
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