The OTA was established in 2009 by the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Act 2008 to deliver a nationally coordinated program to increase organ and tissue donation to improve opportunities for transplantation in Australia.
To achieve this, we work in partnership with the Commonwealth Department of Health, state and territory governments, the DonateLife Network, the broader donation and transplantation clinical sectors, eye and tissue banks, community organisations, and the general public.
We are an independent micro agency within the Australian Government Health portfolio, located in Canberra.
The OTA is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act). The OTA Board is the accountable authority under the PGPA Act.
Our Board comprises seven members including the CEO who bring clinical, business and management experience, knowledge and expertise to strengthen oversight of the OTA and our efforts to increase organ and tissue donation rates.
* The OTA CEO was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 24 March – 1 June 2020 as part of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms Judy Harrison was appointed to the position of acting OTA CEO for this period.
Under the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Act 2008, the Board is required to meet at least four times a year. In 2019–20 the Board met six times: three face-to-face meetings, one videoconference (due to COVID-19 restrictions) and two teleconferences, as shown below.
OTA Board meetings 2019-20
Specific-purpose meeting (teleconference)
22 August 2019
17 September 2019
10 December 2019
25 February 2020
Specific-purpose meeting (teleconference)
26 March 2020
16 June 2020
In 2019–20 our Senior Executive Team comprised:
Ms Lucinda Barry (Chief Executive Officer)
Dr Helen Opdam (National Medical Director)
Ms Judy Harrison (General Manager)
Ms Amanda Bell (from March 2020)
Mr Mark McDonald (from March 2020).
At 30 June 2020 the OTA employed 22.18 full-time equivalent employees across five business units. Our skilled, expert and dedicated people were integral to delivering our strategic priorities and achieving our outcomes in 2019–20. Our organisational structure for 2019–20 is shown below.
OTA committee structure
Our committee structure gives key stakeholders the opportunity to provide input, advice and recommendations to support the delivery of the national program.
All our committees report to the CEO, who reports on meeting recommendations and advice to the Board. The exception to this is the Audit Committee, who provide advice and assurance to the Board.
The committee structure for 2019–20 is shown below.
Vigilance and Surveillance Expert Advisory Committee
The Vigilance and Surveillance Expert Advisory Committee (VSEAC) monitors the performance of the Australian vigilance and surveillance system and provides advice on emerging risks identified in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation sectors. The Chair is Professor Jeremy Chapman and membership comprises our National Medical Director, our CEO and high-level technical specialists with relevant expertise from key clinical stakeholders and government.
In May 2020 the VSEAC released the inaugural report on the Australian vigilance and surveillance system following two full years of operation. The report provides the Australian community with a clear view of vigilance and surveillance in the system and provides confidence to those who need a transplant that we are doing everything we can to make it as safe as possible. The VSEAC also issues quarterly communiques to the clinical sector to drive clinical practice improvements.
Jurisdictional Advisory Group
The Jurisdictional Advisory Group is the peak advisory committee on the national program. The group considers – and makes recommendations about – all aspects of the program, including strategic priorities, clinical and data governance, and program planning and resources for the DonateLife Network. The Jurisdictional Advisory Group works to ensure the national program is consistent with state and territory legislation, policies and processes. Chaired by our CEO, this group comprises jurisdictional health department representatives, the National and State Medical Directors, DonateLife Agency Managers and the OTA General Manager.
Clinical Governance Committee
The Clinical Governance Committee is the peak clinical advisory committee for the DonateLife Network. It is chaired by the National Medical Director and comprises the CEO, State Medical Directors, clinical managers from each state and territory, and representatives of the eye and tissue sectors. The committee provides a forum for sharing experiences and new initiatives, and agrees on practices related to the implementation of the Clinical Practice Improvement Program in DonateLife hospitals. The committee makes recommendations relating to clinical aspects of the national program for consideration by the Jurisdictional Advisory Group.
Eye and Tissue Advisory Committee
The Eye and Tissue Advisory Committee facilitates communication between the OTA, the Department of Health, and the eye, tissue and organ donation sectors. This collaboration helps to improve systems and processes to increase the number of eye and tissue donations for transplantation in Australia. The committee is chaired by the OTA and membership comprises representatives from all Australian eye and tissue banks, as well as the Australian Government’s Health Technology Assessment Branch and the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Transplant Liaison Reference Group
The Transplant Liaison Reference Group facilitates engagement with the transplantation sector on matters relevant to the national program and provides advice on issues and emerging trends that have implications for transplantation matters more broadly. It is chaired by Professor Steve Chadban. Membership comprises our National Medical Director and CEO, and representatives from the:
Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology
Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand
Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society
Australia and New Zealand Organ Donation Registry
Australasian Transplant Coordinators Association
Transplant Nurses’ Association
The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to our Board, assisting them to meet their duties and obligations regarding financial and performance reporting, risk oversight and management, and systems of internal control. The Audit Committee comprises two independent external members and one OTA member. A Board member, the General Manager and representatives from the Australian National Audit Office and internal audit staff are invited to attend each meeting. See Corporate governance for more information.
Community Engagement Group
The Community Engagement Group works collaboratively to inform communications and engagement activities undertaken as part of the national program. The group is chaired by OTA Board member, Mr Oren Klemich, a donor family member. Membership comprises the CEO and representatives from a broad range of community organisations. These include organisations working to promote awareness of organ and tissue donation, including target audience groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, youth, and culturally and linguistically diverse people. The group gives us a community perspective on relevant issues, emerging trends, and opportunities.
Purpose-specific working groups
We have a number of purpose-specific working groups and committees. In 2019–20 the following groups were active:
Communications Reference Group
Data and Audit Working Group
Family Support Advisory Group
Education Coordinators Network
Electronic Donor Record Working Group
OrganMatch Strategic Governance Committee.
COVID-19 specific forums (from March 2020)
In March 2020 we co-established the COVID-19 National Transplantation and Donation Rapid Response Taskforce with the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Our National Medical Director and CEO, along with DonateLife State Medical Directors are also active participants in the COVID-19 forum for international sharing, facilitated by the Canadian Blood Services.