Gift of Life’s 10th DonateLife Walk 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gift of Life’s 10th anniversary DonateLife Walk was held at Regatta Point and around Lake Burley in Canberra on Wednesday 24 February 2016. Held in perfect weather conditions on a warm sunny morning, it attracted more than 5,700 participants. A simultaneous shorter walk was also held around Commonwealth Park.

The objective was to promote wider community awareness of the need for increased organ and tissue donation. It also sought to promote a discussion with family and close friends of their donation decision and of the importance of signing on to the Australian Organ Donor Register. This is vital in encouraging a much higher consent rate for donation and thereby saving many more Australian lives. The theme was “have the chat that saves lives - ask and know your loved ones’ 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.

As usual, it was a bright and joyful occasion with a great atmosphere with coloured balloons, T shirts, hats, caps and show bags which were supplied to a large number of the participants free. Life-sized photos of prominent hospital transplant staff and people involved in the transplant community were displayed to provide context.

The Walk was launched by the Governor-General of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d) accompanied by Lady Cosgrove, Senator Fiona Nash the Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation and Ms Meegan Fitzharris, ACT Assistant Minister for Health. Also attending the launch ceremony was 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 the Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, Member for Canberra Ms Gai Brodtmann MP, the CEO of the Organ and Tissue Authority Felicity McNeill, a range of other MPs and ACT MLAs and a number of departmental Secretaries and heads of agencies. Members of the Brumbies rugby union team took part. Teams of public servants, business people, health staff, large teams of school college and university students, including ANU medical students, participated.

Human Services staff were on hand to encourage participants to sign on to the Australian Organ Donor Register. Lions Club Canberra Belconnen served a free BBQ breakfast to participants after the walk.

The walk continues to grow in size each year. It has grown from 1800 in 2011, 2400 in 2012, 3,100 in 2013, over 4000 in 2014, over 5,000 in 2015 and this year more than 5,700. This demonstrates growing as well as substantial understanding and support for organ and tissue donation in the Canberra region.

A decade on, the Walk has now become a Canberra institution and amongst the largest community events in Australia in support of organ and tissue donation. Make sure you come along and join in next year!