Page 1085 - Week 04 - Thursday, 21 May 2020

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Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Tissue Donor Acknowledgment) Amendment Bill 2020

Debate resumed from 19 February 2020, on motion by Ms Cheyne:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Social Inclusion and Equality, Minister for Tourism and Special Events and Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment) (2.47): I was being courteous and letting the opposition respond first, but they are obviously not ready to or going to, so I will speak now.

I thank Ms Cheyne for bringing the bill before the Assembly, a bill that amends the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act to ensure that families of organ and tissue donors can seek formal recognition of their loved one’s life-saving gift. As Ms Cheyne has previously outlined, this bill will allow a next of kin to request in writing, with verifying information, that the ACT registrar-general include in the death register a statement that their loved one was a tissue donor. By doing so, a family can then apply for a death certificate that recognises their loved one as a tissue donor.

I understand that for many families the formal acknowledgement of their loved one’s tissue donation will be significant, but it might not be for everyone. Like organ and tissue donation itself, this decision is, of course, a deeply personal one. That is why it is important that this process is entirely optional and it is also important that the process is not time sensitive.

Some next of kin may wish to make a written request soon after their loved one has died. Some families may not be ready and may wish to do so at a later date. Others may not be sure. There will be no deadline for when a written request can be made. This also allows a next of kin to seek formal acknowledgement of a loved one’s donation, even if it occurred before this legislation comes into effect. This bill ensures that every donor family has a say in deciding if, how and when they wish to recognise their loved one’s donation.

I also highlight my commitment to responding to any requests for a letter on behalf of the ACT that acknowledges the significance of an individual’s organ or tissue donation. I understand that this will not form part of the legislation. However, we will ensure that there is a process in place to respond to any requests for an acknowledgement letter as soon as possible. In doing so, we will work with donor families on the appropriate wording for these letters, as it is important that we get this right. I again thank Ms Cheyne for this bill and commend it to the Assembly.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (2.50): I am pleased to say that the Canberra Liberals will be supporting Ms Cheyne’s private member’s bill. I just want to highlight that it is a private member’s bill. Mr Barr wondered why he was resuming debate. That is because he adjourned this legislation, and it is customary, if the government adjourns

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