Gift of Life Garden at the National Arboretum

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Gift of Life Garden was officially opened at the National Arboretum Canberra by Ms Tara Cheyne MLA, on behalf of the ACT Government, on Sunday 25 November 2018.  

Also attending the event were the Hon. Ken Wyatt MP, Australian Government Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation, Associate Professor Kumud Dhital, a leading cardiac transplant surgeon at St Vincent’s Private Hospital and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, key staff from the National Arboretum Canberra, staff from the Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and DonateLife ACT, hospital and health staff, Gift of Life Incorporated Board members and other representatives of the local transplant community.

The Garden commemorates organ and tissue donation and transplantation. It will be a place for quiet reflection and appreciation of the wonderful gift of donors and their families, the renewed life of transplant recipients and the work of all those medical and health professionals who make this transformation possible. 

The establishment of the Garden, with a funding commitment by the ACT Government, was announced by Chief Minister Andrew Barr in late 2016. Funding was also provided by the Australian Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority reflecting its importance as a national project. The remaining funding was generously contributed by private donors.

Key staff of the National Arboretum Canberra and Members of the Gift of Life Board cooperated closely in bringing the project to fruition.

The Garden was designed by landscape architect Alex Dalglish of ‘Somewhere’ from Wagga Wagga and constructed by a Canberra company, Eifer.  It comprises winding paths, a mixture of plants, rock features, cascading water, viewing portals and a nook with an inspiring sculpture. 

Gift of Life commissioned the sculpture ‘Confluence’ by Bungendore artist Keith Bender. With intersecting circles representing life forming a sphere and ECG shapes crossing over depicting heartbeats, it symbolizes donors and recipients coming together to enable organ donation and transplantation to proceed enabling many more to survive.

The Garden will provide a tranquil setting for transplant families and the general community. It will also bring to the attention of the very large numbers of visitors to the National Arboretum in future the importance of organ and tissue donation and transplantation and encourage many more of them to become donors and to register on the Australian Organ Donor Register –

L to R: A/Prof Kumud Dhittal, cardiac transplant surgeon at St Vincent’s Private, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP Minister responsible for organ and tissue donation, David O’Leary, Gift of Life President and Lucinda Barry, CEO Organ and Tissue Authority

Register for Organ Donation

Are you registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register?   Click here to register on line or call 1800 777 203.

Tax Deductible Gifts

Gift of Life Incorporated – a not for profit non-governmental organisation – based in the ACT engages in a range of activities each year in support of organ and tissue donation.

Gift of Life enjoys tax deductible gift status with the Australian Taxation Office for contributions received in excess of $2.00.

Those in the community wishing to contribute funds to support Gift of Life’s activities may do so either by sending a cheque addressed to Gift of Life Incorporated, PO Box 9511, Deakin, ACT 2600 or by direct transfer to Gift of Life Incorporated’s bank account with the NAB BSB 082-980 Account Number 495688467.


Terry Connolly

Justice Terry Connolly died suddenly in the early morning of 25 September 2007 on Red Hill, having cycled to the top as part of his exercise routine.  He was a Supreme Court Judge since 2003, and Master since 1996.  Terry was the Member for Molonglo in 1990-1995 and served as the ACT Attorney-General and Minister in various portfolios, including Health.  He and his family have lived in Canberra for many years and he was a popular Canberran.

More importantly, Terry was a husband, father, son and, following his death, a tissue donor.

Terry’s wife, Dr Helen Watchirs, says that she and Terry had discussed their wishes in relation to organ donation.  This meant that at the dreadful time of death, she was clear on his wishes.  Terry’s donation to the improvement of other lives has given Helen and his daughters a sense of contribution, and has helped make up for a life cut short.