Organ and Tissue Donation - Jersey Day 2016

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (10:39): Early this month, on Friday 2 September was Jersey Day in Australia. The principle of Jersey Day is to raise awareness of the Organ and Tissue Authority and the DonateLife Network within Australia. Jersey Day encourages schools and workplaces across Australia to allow students and employees to wear their favourite sporting jersey to school or work to show their support for the DonateLife Network and begin the conversation with their friends and families about organ donation.

I want to record that Jersey Day was founded by the Gremmo family. The Gremmo family are a well-respected and much-loved family in my electorate for their charity, community work. They own a small business of the highest ethical standard possible, and for many years they have really served our community.

Tragically last year, Nathan Gremmo, 13, the son and eldest child of Michael and Kylie Gremmo from Gremmo Homes, was tragically hit by a car crossing Glenhaven Road on his way back from school. He of course died. In the true character of this family, Nathan's family chose to give the gift of life to others to honour the legacy of Nathan's generous personality and his warm spirit. Generous and loving to the end, Nathan Gremmo became an organ donor. His last and most amazing gift was to save the lives of six people, including five young adults and a baby. Along with state members for seats in Western Sydney Mark Taylor, Ray Williams and David Elliott, I celebrated Jersey Day this year and marked it in order to show and start that vital conversation in our communities and families to support and raise awareness of the DonateLife Network, organ donation and the Gremmo family.

Many people in Australia may think that they are too old or unhealthy to be a donor, or that their religion may not support it, and that organ and tissue donation is somehow a taboo. These are common myths and misconceptions about organ donation. It is a vital conversation that we need to have in this country. At any one time of course there are about 1,500 on the organ donation recipient waiting list. In 2014, 1,117 Australians received an organ transplant as a result of the generosity of some 378 organ donors whose families agreed to a donation at the time of their loved one's death.

On average, people on the transplant list are now waiting between six months and four years. Organ donation rates are unacceptably low. Complementing the significant progress that has been made in the clinical sector, Australia needs more active engagement and awareness within the community to increase Australian families' consent rate. The Australian government's national reform program includes actions to increase clinical capacity and capability, and to increase community engagement and awareness in relation to organ and tissue donation. But of course it is events like the tragic loss of life, like Nathan Gremmo's and the heroism and the capability of his family, that great unit in our society, who were so generous to have that difficult conversation on the death of their child, who then went on to save six lives. But the example that they set for so many others all around Australia to have that difficult conversation with the purpose of saving other people's lives.