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Working with the community

The community is an essential partner in helping to increase organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Australia. Our stakeholder and community groups deliver local activities to communities at the grassroots level.

At the forefront of our work are the generous Australians and their families who save and transform the lives of transplant recipients through the gift of donation. This act of generosity has a profound impact on the Australians who receive a transplant, as well as their families and friends. In addition, we work with a range of faith and cultural organisations, media, corporate, sporting and community partners to raise community awareness of organ and tissue donation.

Key to increasing the number of donors is improving consent rates. This can be achieved by increasing the number of people registered to be an organ and tissue donor, and prompting discussions about donation so families are aware of an individual’s decision to be a donor.

In 2018 donation proceeded in 93% of cases when the potential donor had registered as an organ donor, dropping to 52% when the patient was not registered. In addition to registration, a family knowing their loved one wants to be a donor makes a major difference when families are faced with the situation of being asked to agree to donation. In 2018, consent for donation was given in 70% of cases when the family had prior knowledge of their loved one’s wishes.

Further increasing donation requires a high level of community awareness. Our two key annual national events to promote community awareness of organ and tissue donation are DonateLife Week and DonateLife Thank You Day.

DonateLife Week 2018

DonateLife Week is our national community awareness campaign held each year to promote organ and tissue donation in Australia. Led by the OTA in partnership with DonateLife Agencies in each state and territory, the week is supported by Commonwealth, state and territory government departments, community organisations, community grant recipients, donor families, transplant recipients and the general public.

The theme for DonateLife Week – held from Sunday 29 July to Sunday 5 August in 2018 – built on the previous years’ themes of ‘Make it count’ and ‘What are you waiting for?’

Australians were encouraged to register to be an organ and tissue donor and have a conversation about it with their family and friends. The campaign focused on raising awareness through social media as well as traditional media, and was supported by over 160 community events.

DonateLife Week 2018 was also supported through national sporting partnerships. Our CEO, Lucinda Barry, and Travis Auld, AFL General Manager, launched a partnership on 26 July at Etihad Stadium. They were joined by the captain of the Melbourne Football Club, AFL players and the Medical Director of DonateLife Victoria, Dr Rohit D'Costa. The football stars were joined by young football fans who had received a transplant. The DonateLife Week round included signage on the grass, goal umpires waving magenta flags, and DonateLife branding on the AFL Record magazine.

We were also supported by a partnership with the Football Federation Australia (FFA). FFA’s support extended to match day activities and a 19-week digital campaign, including promotion of the organ and tissue donation message on social media channels.

We also launched a partnership with Tonic Health Media to bring the organ and tissue donation message to millions of Australians through promotion in more than 1,650 GP clinic waiting rooms and 300 pharmacies across the country.

To support the DonateLife Week campaign, we produced a suite of print and digital material, including supporter kits, posters and social media tiles. The materials profiled people waiting for a transplant, organ and tissue transplant recipients, living donors, donor families and people who have registered their donation wishes. We also launched the new DonateLife website with information about donation and transplantation, and a clear call to action to register as a donor.

DonateLife Week 2018 featured strongly across Australian print, broadcast and online media, achieving 5,590 broadcast mentions (including syndicated media stories) using key DonateLife search terms. More than three million Australians were engaged through social media, and the DonateLife website had over 140,000 visitors. More than 44,000 Australians joined the Australian Organ Donor Register during the campaign period (1 July – 31 August 2018).

Celebrating DonateLife Week 2018A collage of activities undertaken during DonateLife Week 2018

DonateLife Thank You Day 2018

DonateLife Thank You Day is a national day to honour all living and deceased organ and tissue donors and their families. Held on Sunday 18 November 2018, the media and social media campaign provided an opportunity for the community to reflect on the importance of organ and tissue donation by simply saying‘thank you’.

For this event we published communication resources that included a supporter kit and a video of key messages from the transplant community expressing their thanks to donors and their families.

Other community awareness activities

In addition to the national events, a number of community awareness activities were run or supported by the OTA and the DonateLife Network in 2018. These included:

  • Community Awareness Grants
  • other community education and outreach activities, such as the Transplant Games and the documentary, Dying to live
  • partnerships with the AFL and the FFA, as well as using Tonic Health Media to promote our messages in GP clinics and pharmacies
  • national and local media
  • social media
  • printed and online information.

Community Engagement Group

In 2018–19 we established a Community Engagement Group, with representatives from our key stakeholder and community groups. The purpose of the group is to foster ongoing two-way communication with members to inform our community engagement activities. The aim is to work collaboratively to inform our communications and provide a community perspective on relevant issues, emerging trends and opportunities.