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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5196


Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (13:03): I have a question for the minister or the parliamentary secretary as appropriate about organ donation. I feel very strongly about the issue of organ donation; I have been an organ donor, and ticked the box, ever since I got my first licence, like a lot of people. When I became aware of the organ donor register many years ago I registered myself.

I am very encouraged by a recent announcement of a two-year pilot of the live donor scheme beginning on 1 July. We have consistently debated how to increase rates of organ donation, and the need for people to discuss it with their family, but my understanding is that we are still lagging behind where Australia wants to be in this regard. So I was quite encouraged to see this pilot scheme providing a number of things, and this is six weeks paid leave at minimum wage, which I believe has just gone up to $3,733 for employers, who will pass it on to those eligible employees who become live organ donors. It predominately applies, as I understand it, to kidney donations and it can involve partial liver donations.

This is intended to reduce the waiting time for organ transplants. The focus is on kidney disease and I think that is particularly important. A little while ago, I met a young woman named Jess Sparkes, who has had a double lung transplant. She competed in the World Transplant Games. I was very touched by her story, along with that of Mr Michael Colvin, who was featured on the Four Cornersprogram on this subject. I have seen some criticisms already of this pilot program, one of them being questions about whether this is incentivising organ donation, which is of course illegal. I note that Mr Colvin, after years of needing dialysis, came out in support of the scheme and specifically said, 'It's not cash for kidneys; it's for people who have said to their friends and family, "I'd like to help but I can't keep up the mortgage payments."' There would be many personal reasons why people do not want to register to be a donor; it is very personal. But I think governments can play a role in breaking down some of the barriers and one of those includes where there is a financial disincentive or a financial barrier to do so. I can imagine no greater gift than donating an organ to a loved one and making that decision while you are alive. It must be very difficult. Where someone cannot do it for financial reasons, it must cause resentment between people and the potential donor must feel very bad themselves.

I imagine there are a lot of people in our community, including in my community, who would struggle to have enough time to do it—six weeks for recovery from surgery or to go without an income for the period. In regard to this pilot program, I would like to know whether financial concerns were identified as a major barrier to becoming a living donor. Does it apply only to full-time workers? Will it support part-time workers and people who are self-employed? When we are talking about live donors, there must be some benefits that would accrue to those with particular diseases such as kidney disease to receive an organ from a living donor as opposed to a deceased donor. Finally, what are the current rates of live organ donation and are we on target so that we might one day actually have enough organs from deceased donors?