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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 April 2018) . . Page.. 1308 ..


I spoke earlier about the stigma that has been imposed on the gay community because they have been designated a “high risk” group for STIs, particularly HIV. The same issues of stigma exist for injecting drug users. It is important that we do not exclude people from these ways that they may wish to make a very meaningful contribution to the community in which they live, particularly given that we need all the blood donations we can get, safely.

Given that a review is already planned, I hope that the evidence base for a lifetime donor exclusion of anyone who has a history of injecting drug use could be looked at. I am pleased to see that Mr Steel’s motion calls for a greater role for individual risk-based assessments in the blood donations process. That method could apply across all groups currently considered “high risk” for blood donation.

We absolutely accept that there should be restrictions on who can donate blood, and that public and donor safety is always the primary concern. However, by making definite statements about a group of people who have all had different circumstances and life experiences is potentially discriminatory. These kinds of broad brush restrictions also limit the size of the donor pool at a time when we know we need all the donations we can get.

I thank Mr Steel for bringing this issue to the Assembly today. The Greens are pleased to support this motion. We hope the outcomes of the latest review will help make better informed policy and reduce the barriers to blood donation for some in our community.

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (5.25): I, too, thank Mr Steel for bringing this important motion to the Assembly, not only generating debate in the chamber but also in our community this morning, which is terrific. As we know, blood services are a critical part of our health system. The reality is that people from all walks of life will or may at some point in their life rely on donated blood, or blood-based products such as plasma to manage serious health conditions such as cancer, blood diseases and immune disorders or even to save their life in the event of a medical emergency. In this context, ensuring the supply of blood is an important part of making sure that our health system is able to treat those people in need. As part of this, we need to be looking at what we can do to increase the reserves of an array of blood products in Australia.

Millions of people across the country owe their lives to blood donors. As the responsible minister I am certainly thankful to all those in our community who take the time to give blood. During the last financial year 15,020 active blood donors generously donated 14,323 plasma donations, 717 platelet donations and 22,793 whole-blood donations. In fact, the Canberra mobile blood donor service is one of the best performers in Australia and enjoys the strong support of many blood donors who work in the many government departments across our city.

The ACT has also strongly supported the work of Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s red25 program in achieving its ambitious target to provide at least


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