Today I presented my first Bill in parliament: the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Tissue Donor Acknowledgment) Amendment Bill 2020.
The significance of the decision to donate organs and tissue, and the significance of these gifts themselves, cannot be overstated. They are gifts of life.
But some families in the ACT - and across the country - have told me that they feel the decision and the gift can be under-recognised.
The Bill I introduced proposes to change that by providing families with two formal opportunities for acknowledgment. This first is that families would be able to request to have that their loved one was an organ and tissue donor reflected on their loved one's death certificate. The second is that families can additionally request to receive an acknowledgment letter from the Chief Minister. It does not matter whether the organ and tissue donation was made while the deceased person was living, or on the occasion of their death.
These acknowledgment opportunities would be optional, entirely up to the family, and not time limited - giving the family control and agency in deciding if, how and when they wish to have their loved one’s donation recognised.
It is simply the right thing to do - the right thing to do by these families, and the right thing to do by these donors - to have more formal acknowledgment opportunities to reflect and emphasise the significance of these gifts.
I believe we would be the first state or territory to do this.
This Bill is the result of months and months of discussions and consultations and I am grateful for so much help, direction and support. But my special thanks goes to so many donor families and advocates who have shared such personal stories with me and helped crystallise my thinking about why this is so important and necessary.
Marjorie Taylor, the mother of 11-year-old Annette - the ACT's first organ donor in 1975 - said to me, simply: "It's about putting history in place."
Debate on the Bill will likely be in early April.