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Human organ trade.

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Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Senator for South Australia

Minister for Justice


Monday 11th May 1998



Release and report embargoed 6.00am Monday 11th May





Minister for Justice, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said today she was seeking advice from her department in relation to any potential for trade in human organs.


Senator Vanstone today released the latest paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice series, Human Tissue Transplantation Crime.


“The report gives a tick to Australia’s present laws to prevent trade in organs within Australia,” Senator Vanstone said.


“The paper points out that there has been no documented cases of illegality relating to tissue transplants in Australia and that our current regulatory controls in the States and Territories mean such activity is unlikely to occur.


“This puts Australia at the forefront of appropriate controls in human organ trade.


“However, the report highlights the potential for Australians requiring organ transplants to travel overseas to obtain organs from less than reliable sources. This potential is exacerbated by the fact that Australia has a low organ donation rate and medical advancements mean more people can accept transplants, causing waiting lists to grow.


“There has been some evidence, highlighted by the AIC, of trade in organs in Asia, the Middle East and South America, although no evidence that this has involved Australians.


“While there is no specific evidence of Australians travelling abroad to obtain organs from such sources, the potential does exist.


“I have asked my Department to prepare a report on the issue and present options for the Government to consider, should the need for controls covering Australians purchasing organs overseas become apparent.”


Media Contact:  Kevin Donnellan 0419 400 078


Copies of the report are available from the Minister’s Office or Australian Institute of Criminology

Merril Thompson 02 6260 9255


Report author:  Dr Russell Smith, Research Analyst, AIC, ph: 02 6260 9000