Organ Donation

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: My question is directed to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Will the minister update the council on organ donation in South Australia?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing): I thank the honourable member for his question. South Australia leads the nation in organ donation. More South Australians register as donors than any other state, with 68 per cent registered. Importantly, 73 per cent of South Australian families also give their consent when asked to confirm a loved one's wishes to proceed with donation, which is, again, more than any other Australian jurisdiction.

We cannot afford to be complacent, with thousands of people who would benefit from organ donations waiting for organs to be received. This is highlighted by a report published today by the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. The RCH undertakes a quarterly national survey of Australian households on issues concerning child and adolescent health. Their most recent survey of 1,186 parents who collectively cared for 3,251 children under 18 related to organ donation. Whilst some of its findings were encouraging, it shows that there is still more work to be done.

Two-thirds of Australian parents said that in the event of their children's death they would be willing to consider organ donation for their children and 81 per cent said they would be willing to donate their own organs after death. However, only a quarter of parents have registered on the Australian Organ Donation Register and, again, only a quarter have discussed organ donation with their teenage children, although nearly one in five parents said their children had raised organ donation with them following education through schools, media and social media.

It is also concerning that over half of parents who took part in the survey believed that they could make known their own wishes to be an organ donor through their driver's licence. While in South Australia this is true, we are the only state in which the decision to be an organ donor can be recorded through the driver's licence, which means that in other jurisdictions there are potentially many Australians who are otherwise willing to be organ donors but are not registered. The difference this makes in young people is particularly stark. In South Australia, more than 60 per cent of the 16 to 24 year olds have registered their intent to donate, while around the rest of Australia the number is at or below 10 per cent.

The poll also found misconceptions about organ donation. A third of parents thought that a child whose parents had decided to have their organs donated would not get all available treatment options and nearly half, 42 per cent, thought that toddlers and preschool children were too young to donate. A third of parents also worried that their child would suffer in the process of organ donation.

Together, these findings illustrate the need for ongoing conversation and education about organ donation. While I would again highlight South Australia's strong record on organ donation, I also encourage South Australians to consider registering as an organ donor and to discuss this decision with their family.