For the ninth year, Gift of Life’s DonateLife Walk was held around Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on Wednesday 25 February, with a simultaneous short walk also held around Commonwealth Park.
The objective was to raise wider community understanding and awareness of the need for increased organ and tissue donation. It also sought to promote a discussion with family and close friends of each other’s organ donation decision and of the need to sign on to the Australian Organ Donor Register, thereby encouraging a significantly higher consent rate for donation and saving more Australian lives. The theme this year was “Have the chat that saves lives - Ask and know your loved one’s donation decision. Discover, Decide, Discuss organ and tissue donation”.
The event was sponsored by the Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and supported the national campaign promoting organ and tissue donation.
Threatening weather held away and the walk was conducted in cloudy but cool conditions – and as usual it was a fun occasion with a great atmosphere with colourful balloons, bright T shirts, hats and caps which were provided free. Life sized photo images of prominent hospital transplant staff and people involved in the transplant community were displayed to provide context.
The walk was launched this year by the Governor-General of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d), Senator Fiona Nash, the Government’s Assistant Minister for Health responsible for organ and tissue donation and Mr Simon Corbell, ACT Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Health. Also attending the ceremony were Ms Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Health reflecting bipartisan support. They were introduced by Gift of Life President, David O’Leary.
Others participating in the walk included Ms Gai Brodtmann, Member for Canberra, Ms Yael Cass, CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority and a range of other MPs and ACT MLAs. Members of the Brumbies rugby union and Capital Football teams also took part. Teams of public servants, business people, health staff, school college and university students, including a team of ANU medical students, and the general participated.
Human Services/ Medicare staff handed out showbags containing Australian organ donor registration forms. Lions Club Belconnen served a free healthy BBQ breakfast to participants after the walk.
The overall number of partipants this year was around 5,000 with wide media coverage. The figures in recent years have continued to grow from 1,800 in 2011, 2400 in 2012, 3,100 in 2013 and over 4,000 in 2014 demonstrating ever growing community understanding and support for organ and tissue donation.
The walk is now a major community event in Canberra and amongst the largest in Australia supporting organ and tissue donation. It is now a major event on the annual Canberra calendar.
Other photos of the walk are in the photo gallery.