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The community

Meaningful, consistent and effective engagement with the community is essential to building awareness and acceptance of organ and tissue donation in Australia.

Critically, donation only occurs if Australians say yes to being a donor.

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 those who receive a transplant, as well as their families, friends and communities.

We partner with a broad range of stakeholders across the community to convert public support into action, by encouraging more Australians to talk about organ and tissue donation and, most importantly, to register to be a donor. Throughout the year, community groups and individuals actively promoted donation, shared their stories and delivered local activities to communities at the grassroots level.

Every year we run community education and awareness activities dedicated to promoting organ and tissue donation. In 2019–20 our two key campaigns were DonateLife Week and DonateLife Thank You Day. Throughout the year, we used our key social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn – to raise community awareness about organ and tissue donation in Australia. We also developed printed and online information and resources, and made use of national and local media.

A key to increasing the number of donors is improving consent rates; that is, the number of families who agree to donation in hospitals.

We know that more families say yes to donation when they know what their loved one wanted, either because they had registered to be a donor or they had previously talked about donation. A key call to action in all our communication to the public is to talk about donation with your family and register if you want to be a donor at the end of your life.

DonateLife Week 2019

DonateLife Week 2019 was held from 28 July to 4 August 2019. It was led by the OTA in partnership with DonateLife Agencies in each state and territory, and supported by donor families, transplant recipients, governments and corporate, sporting and community partners and organisations.

Every DonateLife Week, we want to inspire all Australians to make a real difference to the lives of others by registering to be a donor and having a chat about it with their family and friends. While the majority of Australians believe it is important to be an organ and tissue donor, only one in three are registered.

The call to action for DonateLife Week 2019 was finding a 'plus one'. If every registered donor found one person who wasn’t and encouraged them to register, the number of registered donors would double. Our campaign also targeted groups with low representation on the register. This included young Australians (aged 16–25), culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and Indigenous Australians.

DonateLife Week 2019 was launched on the steps of the Sydney Opera House by the Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government and the Minister responsible for the OTA. For the first time, the Opera House sails were illuminated 'DonateLife magenta', leading the lighting of dozens of other landmarks, and turning iconic buildings across Australia magenta to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation.

Photo of the Opera House sails illuminated "DonateLife Magenta' for the launch of DonateLife Week 2019
Opera House sails illuminated 'DonateLife Magenta' for the launch of DonateLife Week 2019

The 2019 campaign used social media, traditional media and community events across Australia to raise awareness and generate discussion about donation. Existing partnerships with the Australian Football League (AFL), the Football Federation of Australia, and Tonic Health Media – who distributed DonateLife materials in GP practices and pharmacies – helped to extend the campaign’s reach. Round 20 of the 2019 AFL season promoted DonateLife through player and club support, digital engagement and stadium branding. New partnerships were also established with Melbourne Storm, who provided player ambassadors and lit their home stadium 'DonateLife magenta'; and Australia Post, who provided digital support.

We also provided 20 grants to community organisations to host local events in support of DonateLife Week 2019. Initiatives included a laneway dinner party, community walks, outreach through GP clinics, light shows, registration drives, market stalls at shows, morning teas, information workshops, community radio broadcasting, and advertising on public transport and billboards.

Additionally, we reached out to around 180 government agency communications and media teams and social clubs, encouraging them to participate in DonateLife Week 2019.

Data from the Australian Organ Donor Register shows that during the DonateLife Week campaign period (1 July to 31 August 2019) there were 18.4% more registrations than during the 2018 campaign.

DonateLife Thank You Day 2019

DonateLife Thank You Day, held annually since 2015, provides an opportunity for the community to acknowledge the generosity of donors and their families, simply by saying thank you to those who make organ and tissue donation possible.

On Sunday 17 November, Australians took part in DonateLife Thank You Day 2019 by sharing a thank you message acknowledging organ and tissue donors and their families on social media using the hashtags #DonateLife and #ThankYouDay2019. A media release issued by the Hon Mark Coulton MP also stressed the important role families play by saying yes to donation in the hospital. A range of digital resources were also created to support community events and featured in many of the social media posts.

Community events in 2020

In February, the ACT were out in full force at the 14th annual Gift Of Life (GoLi) walk around Lake Burley Griffin to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation.

By March, COVID-19 had greatly affected our community engagement plans. Restrictions on public gatherings saw many of our community events across all states and territories postponed or cancelled.

On Saturday 30 May we held our first National Service of Remembrance online. We invited Australians to join us for a unique online tribute that honoured those organ and tissue donors and their families who have generously given the gift of life. The pre-recorded tribute ran on the DonateLife Facebook page for 30 minutes and featured speakers from across the country, including donor families, recipients, and industry professionals. We encouraged everyone to post a photo of their loved ones in the comments and light a virtual candle.