Our Committee of Management
Membership is made up of Donor Families who control the network’s activities.
There are also Associates (friends of) who are not themselves members of donor families but have an interest in, and are supportive of, the organisation and its members.
The Committee of Management is made up predominately of Donor Families with the Chair specifically being a Donor Family member.
Chairperson & WA Donor Rep.
I have just recently moved to Perth WA after living in Geraldton for the past 30 years with my wife Karen. After our 19 year old daughter, Alysha, passed away in 2008, I became a Donor Dad. I am very proud of Alysha for becoming a Donor Hero.
I soon found that there needed to be a support group for families whose loved ones had become a Donor; a place where people could offer peer to peer support, as fellow Donor Families understood the highs and lows of losing a loved one as well as being a donor family.
Donor Families Australia was established in 2012 and I have been a proud and active member since its inception. It is very pleasing to see this group grow from strength to strength.
What would you like seen improved for Donor Families?
Firstly, I would like to see greater openness and transparency within the Organ and Tissue Authority/Donate Life when supporting Donor Families. For this to happen we need to see more Donor Families in decision making positions.
Through the ongoing work of the DFA Committee I hope that we will be able to help facilitate consenting Donor Families and Recipients to meet. I would also like to see a review of the Letter Writing process to ensure that letters are passed onto the intended recipient as written, if that is what both parties consent to. Our Members keep telling the Committee these are the top two pressing issues that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Vice Chairperson & VIC Donor Rep.
Diamond Creek has been home for my husband Rick and I for the last 36 years, where we raised our three children. It's a town with a natural bush setting and a strong sense of community.
We lost our twenty-old year-old son, Brett, in December 2009, and became a donor family. Whilst he was not a registered organ donor, we chose to uphold his decision to give the gift of life.
Lack of support during and after our donation experience compelled me to speak up for positive change. The need to be supported by others who had walked this journey and who could truly understand how we felt was imperative.
I would like to see an end to the bureaucratic approach to policy and decision making. We need a system that places those most affected (donors, recipients, donor’s and recipient’s families) first, ahead of the emphasis on the organ and tissue register. I believe funds could be much better spent whilst still achieving increased donations rates. The concerns in regard to the letter writing process need addressing now. Consenting donor families and recipients should be able to meet should they wish and be supported through this process.
Treasurer and NT Donor Rep.
Helen lives in Darwin and is the mother of three sons and a daughter, ages 21 to 29. She also has two grandchildren.
On 29 April 2012, Helen’s second eldest boy, Stewart, was killed in a freak motorbike accident, four days short of his 24th birthday. In his life, he always put others first and it was a blessing that he was able to save and improve six lives through his organ donation.
Helen has devoted her life to continuing her son’s legacy by helping people in need. She volunteered in Uganda in 2012 and has been a spokesperson for DonateLife NT.
Helen would like to see more support given to donor families and is keen to support families living in the Northern Territory.
An accountant by trade, she changed career following her son’s death, to be able to help people in need and is currently undertaking a Diploma in Counselling and Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention which she expects to complete by June 2016.
Secretary, Media Officer and QLD Donor Rep
In 2013, Kelli’s Mum, Maree, suffered a brain aneurysm. Upon realising their Mum’s brain death was imminent, Kelli and her two brothers approached medical staff advising of their Mum’s wish to become an organ and tissue donor. Maree gifted three people a second chance at life; donating her lungs, liver and a kidney.
Kelli says that she and her family received exceptional care from the Townsville General Hospital’s ICU Doctor, Nurse and DonateLife Co-ordinator, however, she feels that current support systems could be improved for donor families post -donation.
Since her Mum’s gift, Kelli has become passionate about DonateLife’s Have the chat that saves lives! campaign and through her position on the Donor Families Australia Committee, hopes to improve post donation support for other Queensland donor families.
WA Donor Rep
I live in Joondalup north of Perth City. My husband, Peter died very suddenly from a brain aneurysm at age 61. I was lucky to have had such a beautiful man in my life for 38 years. To date, I have been privileged to have met only one of Peter's recipients which has helped to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Joining the Committee of Donor Families Australia in 2013 as the WA Representative has been one of the best decisions I have made. Watching and helping our membership to grow, listening to others, trying to make improvements in the system and being part of a huge Australia wide family is very rewarding and comforting to be able to help others.
For the future, I would like to see every donor family member and recipient family member given the right to meet if they mutually wish.
I would like to see a much better system in place for sending and receiving letters, this is vitally important. Letters should not be opened and names crossed out if a Donor and Recipient agree to receive such letters... it is their very personal choice.
I would like to especially see the same rules apply to every State and Territory of Australia and for all the organisations involved at every level to help each other. I strongly believe that co-operation, education and especially listening to each other properly would hugely increase the Organ and Tissue Donation rates in Australia.
NSW Donor Rep.
Jann described her reasons for joining the committee of DFA this year: “I joined DonateLife this year. I lost my brother in March 2016 unexpectedly due to complication from a boat accident. My brother donated his organs and has helped save the lives of three people.
"I am passionate in promoting organ donation and supporting other Donor families, as well supporting recipients.”
TAS Donor Rep.
I am a proud member of a donor family here in Tasmania. Sadly, I lost my beautiful Mum suddenly to a brain aneurysm in March 2010. Her passing completely shocked our little family but from this complete tragedy we have witnessed many times the power of organ donation. Although our network in Tasmania is small, we have met some amazing donor families, and also organ and tissue recipients over the years since Mum's passing.
The journey of a donor family is an extremely unique one, and I enjoy meeting with and assisting other families who are in the same situation as ours. The connection formed between donor families is special, where everyone simply understands the journey that each is travelling.
Donation & Transplantation Ethics Adviser & ACT Rep
Holly Northam is Assistant Professor in Critical Care Nursing at the University of Canberra.
She is a Registered Nurse, Midwife, and Doctoral Candidate exploring the experiences of families who have made organ donation decisions.
Amongst her previous clinical roles, Holly was an organ donor co-ordinator and is currently a Director on the Board of ShareLife Australia and a Churchill Fellow.
Transplant Recipient and VIC Rep
In 2007, after eight years on dialysis, Kevin became recipient of a donor kidney. Kevin is a painter by trade, and now able to do a full day of work without feeling his previous exhaustion.
To demonstrate his new found fitness, Kevin has so far competed in three Australian Transplant Games, one being in Melbourne which he chaired as Transplant Australia Representative. There have also been three Games in Great Britain and one World Transplant Games in Sweden. He is also Victorian Captain of the Transplant Cricket Team.
In 2012, Kevin established the Donor and Recipient Facebook page which he continues to administer. The page now has around 700 members and hosts continued conversation between Recipients and Donor Families.
SA Donor Rep.
I have only just become a DFA committee member. My husband and father to our 3 children died very suddenly in March 2016 of a catastrophic brain haemorraege. We were able to make a decision to donate his organs at this traumatic time as we had previously discussed organ donation as a family.
Because of my personal journey with organ donation I wanted to volunteer my time to an organisation that I had an affinity with and DFA seemed an appropriate group. I have also spoken at Donate Life ceremonies and feel privileged to talk about our journey and experiences with organ donation.
I would like DFA to continue to support the notion that donor families should be able to get in touch with the recipients if all parties agree.