Jersey Day 2017

Monday, 11 September 2017

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (10:40): I rise today to mark Friday, 1 September, which was Jersey Day, a very important event sparked by a family in my electorate who came up with this initiative to raise awareness of the DonateLife Network as part of the Organ and Tissue Authority. As we know, in May 2015 Kylie and Michael Gremmo lost their son, Nathan, 13, in a terrible accident on his way home from school. From this tragedy sprang a great hope from this remarkable family who, true to their character, chose to donate Nathan's organs. This difficult decision and this family experience—and this profound gift that they gave to the world, which saved six lives, five young adults and a baby—sparked Jersey Day, which has become a national phenomenon.

This year we saw key entertainers, including the Wiggles, as well as the NRL, the Prime Minister, the minister for ageing and people all around the country don a jersey to show their support for DonateLife and start those vital conversations within families about organ donations, remarking that Australia continues to have a very low rate of organ donation. This is the third year that Jersey Day has been in place, and it's a great and growing success. We're very proud of the Gremmo family locally and nationally. They run a much loved and respected business in my electorate. Their attitude towards the tragedy within their own family has really seen them show and demonstrate to the entire country—and I think to the world—what you can do, what can spring out of such awful events and what can occur when you have that inner strength to care for others and seek greater meaning from an awful tragedy.

There is still a lot of work to be done. About 1,400 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any one time. Wait times can be up to six years for healthy, compatible organs. One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 people or more. Thanks to developments in the clinical sector, Australia is now a world leader in successful transplant outcomes. Improvements are also being made nationally; 2016 saw the highest number of organ donors in Australia since the beginning of record keeping, and 503 deceased organ donors gave new life to 1,447 Australians. It's because of initiatives like Jersey Day and what the Gremmo family have done that we know, in conjunction with the DonateLife Network, that these strides are being made, and we expect to see many more strides in this area.

You're never too young and never too healthy to register as an organ donor. It is a tough conversation, a controversial conversation, that takes place within families. But this family, the Gremmo family, with the loss of their young son, saved the lives of six people. It's this kind of tragedy combined with this kind of heroism, this kind of conversation, that can spark a change in the lives of so many people. It's a vital conversation, and I encourage it. I want to thank the Gremmo family for the work they've done over the last three years. I look forward to this being an important conversation every year.