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About the Organ and Tissue Authority

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 extra small agency within the Australian Government Health portfolio, located in Canberra.

Throughout 2020–21, the Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government was the responsible Minister for the OTA. On 2 July 2021, The Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment, Minister for Regional Health became responsible for the OTA.

Governance arrangements

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. Biographies of our Board members are available at Our Board | DonateLife

Table 1 Details of the OTA Board during 2020-21


Position held

Date of commencement

Date of cessation

Dr Mal Washer


1 July 2017

Appointed term

Professor Carol Pollock

Deputy Chair

1 July 2017

Appointed term

Ms Lucinda Barry


17 September 2017

Appointed term

Dr Marisa Herson


4 October 2017

Appointed term

Mr Oren Klemich


4 October 2017

Appointed term

Ms Margaret Kruger


4 October 2017

Appointed term

Professor Stephen Lynch AC


4 October 2017

Appointed term

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 2020–21 the Board met formally on five occasions and considered out of session resolutions as required.

OTA staff

In 2020–21 our Senior Executive Team comprised:

+Ms Lucinda Barry (Chief Executive Officer)
+Dr Helen Opdam (National Medical Director)
+Ms Judy Harrison (Chief Operating Officer to 30 April 2021)
+Ms Amanda Bell (Clinical Programs)
+Mr Mark McDonald (Analytics and Technology)

At 30 June 2021 the OTA employed 21.49 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 2020–21. Our organisational structure at 30 June 2021 is shown below.

Figure 1 OTA organisational structure at 30 June 2021 Image of the Organ and Tissue Authority organisational structure as at 30 June 2021. 5 business divisions Clinical Programs, Communications and Engagement, Governance and Parliamentary, Corporate, Analytics and Technology. Next layer of reporting is National Manager Clinical Programs Strategy, National Manager Communications and Engagement, National Manager Analytics and Technology. Next layer of reporting is National Medical Director Dr Helen Opdam, Chief Operating Officer. Next layer of reporting is the Chief Executive Officer Lucinda Barry. Top level of reporting is the OTA Board.

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 2020–21 is shown below.

Figure 2 OTA committee structure 2020–21 This figure contains information about the OTA's Committee structure in 2020-21. Clinical Committees include Vigilance and Surveillance Expert Advisory Committee, Jurisdictional Advisory Group, Clinical Governance Committee, Eye and Tissue Advisory Committee, Transplant Liaison Reference Group. Operational committees include OTA Board, Audit Committee, OTA Executive and staff committees. Community committees include the Community and Engagement Group

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. We reviewed the VSEAC membership in 2020–21 to ensure the required specialist skills are available and thank the outgoing and incoming members for their expertise in this Committee.

In July 2021, the VSEAC released the Annual Report on the Australian vigilance and surveillance system, for notifications received from 1 January to 31 December 2020 and also included insights into the impacts of COVID-19 on the organ donation sector. 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 (JAG) 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 JAG works to ensure the national program is consistent with state and territory legislation, policies and processes. Chaired by our CEO, this group comprises jurisdictional and Commonwealth health department representatives, the National and State Medical Directors, DonateLife Agency Managers and the OTA Chief Operating Officer.

Clinical Governance Committee

The Clinical Governance Committee is the peak clinical advisory committee for the DonateLife Network. It is chaired by our National Medical Director and comprises the CEO, the DonateLife State Medical Directors and Clinical Agency Managers, and representatives of both the eye and tissue professional bodies. 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, and where there are policy or funding implications these are considereded by the JAG.

Eye and Tissue Advisory Committee

The Eye and Tissue Advisory Committee facilitates communication between the OTA, the Commonwealth Department of Health, and the eye, tissue and organ donation sectors. This collaboration helps to improve systems and processes to increase the number of deceased eye and tissue donations for transplantation in Australia. The committee is chaired by the OTA and membership comprises representatives from 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, representatives from transplant, medical and nursing professional bodies, donation specialists and Transplant Australia representing consumers.

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 First Nations Peoples, young people, and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse groups. The group gives us a community perspective on relevant issues, emerging trends, and opportunities.

Audit Committee

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 Chief Operating Officer, representatives from the Australian National Audit Office and internal audit staff are also invited to attend each meeting.

Purpose-specific working groups

We have a number of purpose-specific working groups and committees. In 2020–21 the following groups were active:

+Communications Reference Group
+Data and Audit Working Group
+Education Coordinators Network
+Electronic Donor Record Working Group
+Family Support Advisory Group
+OrganMatch Strategic Governance Committee.

COVID-19 specific forums

The COVID-19 National Transplantation and Donation Rapid Response Taskforce, established in March 2020 with the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand, continued to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on donation, retrieval and transplantation. The Taskforce met on a fortnightly basis to discuss emerging issues within Australia and New Zealand and to share domestic and international literature and data on COVID-19 focussing on organ donation, transplantation, and vaccination for transplant recipients and those on the waitlist. In addition to our CEO, National Medical Director, OTA VSEAC representatives and DonateLife representation, our National Manager Analytics and Technology presents current domestic and international COVID-19 data and trends.

Our CEO and National Medical Director, along with DonateLife State Medical Directors are also active participants in the COVID-19 forum for international sharing, facilitated by Canadian Blood Services.