Page 2603 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 July 2008

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MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. As members would know, this morning the Prime Minister, Minister Roxon and Parliamentary Secretary McLucas announced a package for organ donation to be proposed at the COAG meeting tomorrow. The ACT government welcomes this announcement. The package represents world-best practice in organ donation and will seek to make a real difference to a nationally coordinated approach.

The commonwealth have announced they will be contributing new funding of $136.4 million over the next four years to support this announcement today. This is an issue of national significance and one that is very welcome, from our point of view.

Key elements that are proposed include $67 million to fund dedicated organ donation specialist doctors and other staff in public and private hospitals, $46 million to establish a new, independent national authority to coordinate national organ donation initiatives, $17 million in new funding for hospitals to meet additional staffing, bed and infrastructure costs associated with organ donation, $13.4 million to continue national public awareness and education and $1.9 million for counselling for potential donor families, and other significant measures including enhanced professional education programs, consistent clinical protocols, clinical trigger check lists and data collection for organ transplants in hospital. A new organ donation and transplantation authority will be set up by 1 January 2009 to drive and oversee this comprehensive set of reforms.

Most importantly, the package includes enhanced national education and training for health professionals involved with organ donation and an ongoing community awareness program. We know that education and support for organ donation for communities and for affected families are so important and can mean the difference between life and death.

Already, with the increased awareness through media and public debate, we can see that our numbers of organ donations locally are on the rise. The ACT has had 23 donors this year to date, comprising two multi-organ donors including corneas, and 20 corneal donors. This compares to the same time last year, showing nine ACT donations, and represents a significant increase in local organ donations. Similarly, more people are registering for organ donation. In February 2001, we had 1,429 people registered in the ACT. As at May 2008, that number has increased to 47,319 people.

Education campaigns like the national mail-out in July 2005, clearly, had an effect, with nearly 7,000 ACT residents signing up in September 2005 in response. Following increased attention to the issue in recent months, we have seen around 500 added to the list every month since February this year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank donors and families for the gift of life they have given another person and another family. The donation of a person’s organ in death is probably the most significant contribution one person can make to another, one that makes a profound difference to another person’s life and, in many cases, saves many other lives. I would also like to pay tribute to the teams of health professionals from TCH, Calvary, the police and coronial staff who so rapidly respond to potential donations, often with lateral thinking, in order to save a life.

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