Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 24 November 2022) . . Page.. 3780 ..
of our children and young adults. This bill also makes some technical changes for other stakeholders, but the Canberra Liberals are satisfied that these changes are not significant. Thank you.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.27): I want to rise briefly to speak about some particular elements of this amendment bill and also in support of the government amendments being tabled today, which Minister Stephen-Smith advised she would be bringing on when this bill was introduced some time ago.
Members would be aware that transplantation and donation is a responsibility of states and territories, but there is a large amount of consistency between the acts of each. That has been a very deliberate position taken by states and territories. However, since Western Australia received legal advice some 18 months ago about the operation of their transplantation and donation act, this has regrettably called into doubt the ability of anyone other than the family of a loved one who has donated their organs or tissue to be able to discuss this generous, life-changing and life-saving act, even if that family has provided consent.
This has been particularly problematic for DonateLife, here and in other jurisdictions, which of course plays such a vital role in supporting families but also in how we acknowledge and remember families’ loved ones and their gifts. Being unable to acknowledge those loved ones and those gifts—including at, but of course not limited to, services of remembrance—can exacerbate a family’s grief. It has also placed limitations on DonateLife’s ability to share those stories more broadly, to raise awareness of the extraordinary value of organ and tissue donation to the community at large. Again, this is incredibly problematic at any time but especially while donation rates remain low, as they do across Australia, and the ACT is no outlier in that.
I acknowledge that there is, very pleasingly, work underway to further harmonise legislation nationally. I thank the federal Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care for that work. I do believe and hope that this may address this incredibly regrettable anomaly. I also think there is an understanding across jurisdictions, and certainly from the ACT government, that the work to harmonise legislation is going to take time. I support and endorse Minister Stephen-Smith’s view, and indeed the government’s view, that addressing this is too important to wait. That is certainly what donor families have stressed to us as well.
I thank Minister Stephen-Smith, her office and the team at ACT Health for their work in progressing this important amendment, which will allow the sharing of information about the donor and their donation by DonateLife ACT, with the consent of the family. I also acknowledge the chair of Donor Families Australia, Bruce McDowell, who has been an unwavering advocate for organ donation, tissue donation and, most importantly, families’ rights, and who brought this to our attention some time ago.
I also want to acknowledge that the bill before us today provides clarity regarding allowing the lawful release of organ or tissue donation information when a request is received from a bereaved family for the acknowledgement of that person’s donation. Members may be aware that the ACT is the first jurisdiction in the country which