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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 2 Hansard (25 February) . . Page.. 752..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

up and says, "Get rid of the weeds. Knock the willows down". There is no plant life in the Jerrabomberra wetlands which is not and cannot be characterised as anything but a weed. They are all weeds, even the grass. (Time expired.)

Organ donation awareness

MS PORTER: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, this morning you attended the Chief Minister's awards for organ donation awareness. Could you inform the Assembly about the purpose of these awards?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for her question. Yes. A number of members also attended and it was very good to see the high level of interest by elected representatives in organ donation awareness and the importance of this awareness week. The purpose of the awards is, of course, to recognise those who have contributed to improving community awareness of the importance of organ donation.

Awareness is important in very many areas of healthcare. That is why we are seeing awareness campaigns such as this designed to encourage procedures, in addition to organ donation, such as breast screening and campaigns to improve the awareness of other health issues.

When it comes to organ transplantation, awareness is important on multiple levels. Firstly, we need more individuals to register as potential donors, and that requires that people be aware of the register and of how easy it is to add their own name to the list. It all sounds simple, of course. But, while most Australians I am sure would philosophically agree with donation, no-one wants to contemplate their own early death. And that is what signing on to the register requires us to do: to address our mortality.

There is something potentially confronting about putting your name on a list that effectively acknowledges the prospect of early and untimely death, at a young age perhaps or at the peak of good health The reality is that most donors only become donors because they are struck down by some kind of catastrophic injury or illness, or perhaps as a result of a car accident, a stroke, a fall or some such. Signing on as a potential donor means first acknowledging that this could happen to us. And in the midst of a busy work and home life, with all of the competing claims on our attention and our thoughts, it is probably little wonder that looking mortality so squarely in the face is something many people do not get around to. We go into some fairly rapid avoidance.

Awareness campaigns such as this week, and this morning's awards, help cut through, and one way they can do that is by reminding people of what the gift of an organ or tissue can mean for the recipients, because that is ultimately what donation is all about—improving the quality of life for recipients; in some cases literally and dramatically offering someone the gift of life.

And that restored quality and duration of life, that gift, can only be offered to the 1,700 Australians now waiting for organs if more of us register as potential donors and if more of us encourage our families and friends and loved ones to do the same.

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