DonateLife Week

Extract from Hansard
[COUNCIL — Thursday, 24 February 2011]
Hon Lynn MacLaren; President



HON LYNN MacLAREN (South Metropolitan) [5.20 pm]: I rise also to discuss a life-and-death issue, which
was also the subject of a question that was delayed this week; however, I have some information that the
minister provided subsequent to the question being placed on notice and I wanted the house to be aware of that.

This week is national DonateLife Week, and it is to do with organ donation. It started off with a great debate
between the media and our parliamentarians at the Fremantle Town Hall on Sunday. Hon Adele Farina joined
the member for Jandakot and they were successful and won the debate. I like to think that I held the balance of
power, because the vote was very close and my friend and I voted for the parliamentarians. They were ably
assisted by some excellent debaters from the University of Western Australia. On the passionate side against the
parliamentarians was our own 6PR journalist Howard Sattler.

It is worth noting that currently 690 000 Western Australians are registered donors; however, as I mentioned in
my question earlier this week, that is significantly below the average throughout Australia. We are having some
difficulty getting people on the organ donor register. It is very important that weeks like this are drawn to the
attention of people in our electorates, and I draw it to members’ attention now. I guess there are two things that
people need to be aware of. The first is that it is really easy to get on the register; people can go to the Medicare
website or to But once people are on the register, they must talk about it. They need to tell
their loved ones that they are on the register and want to be an organ donor, because if the situation arises that a
person is in a position to donate, their loved ones actually make that decision. I am not advocating that members
should or should not go on the register, but they should really give it some consideration this week. I asked the
minister how much money had been spent on public awareness to date. There is a national reform strategy, and
$134 million was given to this program in 2009. I hope that the minister will be able to come forward with a
figure; he was unable to provide a figure earlier this week. I think public awareness is paramount.

Subsequent to that question being asked, the minister provided me with some information to the effect that the
government is considering legislation for an opt-out scheme. I do not know anything about that yet; the
government has not advised the Greens of that. However, I understand that the government and the opposition
are looking at legislation. I think that is really good news. As members, we need to encourage them to do that
sooner rather than later. I urge the government to work more quickly on this issue because lives can be saved by
people who want to donate organs. In fact, in 2010 Western Australia had 22 organ donors who saved the lives
of 69 people. I think that is a very special contribution that we should note.