Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 April 2018) . . Page.. 1301 ..

(d) adopt the recommendations of the expert panel undertaking the Australian Red Cross Blood Service Review of Australian Blood Donor Deferrals relating to Sexual Activity.

I want to start this speech by thanking the amazing blood donors of Canberra who altruistically make the decision to help people who are ill in our community and quite literally save lives in our hospitals every day. We are very proud that the ACT has the most generous rate of blood donation in the entire country, with over 15,000 active donors and almost 38,000 donations over 2016-17.

Just last month Australia’s second dedicated blood plasma donation centre was opened in the centre of Canberra, providing a welcoming space that we hope will encourage more blood donors to visit. We know that there are many fantastic businesses, government and non-government organisations in Canberra who encourage their staff to be involved in blood donor drives during work time, many participating in blood donation challenges. But I know from personal experience that this can often lead to inadvertent conversations which can be quite difficult in the workplace. Not all staff are allowed to donate blood and it is often with much embarrassment that employees who happen to be gay or bisexual must disclose their sexuality to their workplace or come up with another excuse as to why they cannot donate blood. In Australia men who have sex with men must remain abstinent for 12 months in order to donate blood, and this rules out a significant proportion of that community from taking part in supporting our blood supply.

On the face of it, it seems crazy. The Australian Red Cross blood donor service currently relies on blood from just three per cent of the population to maintain our national blood reserves, and it is increasingly being put in the position of having to rely on imported blood to meet the health needs of Australians. The Therapeutic Goods Administration, through their policies on blood donation, is excluding a very significant cohort of people in our community from donating blood safely based on the latest research and technology.

In Australia blood donation is, quite rightly, an entirely altruistic process, with donors often receiving just a drink, a biscuit and heartfelt thanks for their lifesaving donation. Presently, demand for blood in Australia increases by 11 per cent a year while local donor supplied blood is only increasing by around five per cent.

There is a shortage of local blood donations in Australia, with reserves regularly reaching critical levels, particularly for rare blood types or for all blood types around winter, as colds and flus increase blood demand but may prevent many regular donors from donating. This is forcing the National Blood Authority to look overseas for blood products, with 44 per cent of all immunoglobulin—Ig—used in 2016-17 purchased from overseas suppliers, and a majority will be imported by the year’s end. This plasma product is critical, as it treats people with neurological, immunological and haematological conditions.

Likewise about a quarter of intravenous immunoglobulin supplies are imported. These are used particularly for large transfusions in emergencies where there is a rapid loss of blood. Obtaining blood from overseas also raises ethical concerns about blood

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video