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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.

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Bruce McDowell
Chairman/Treasurer & 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.

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Leanne Campbell

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.

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Philippa Delahoy

Secretary & NSW Donor Rep.

Philippa is a donor wife, following the sudden passing of her husband Scott in 2011.

His kidneys freed two young people from a lifetime of dialysis and his corneas went to medical research.   Scott, a huge sci-fi fan, would be amused by his organs living on long after him.

Philippa became involved in Donor Families Australia in 2017.   With he background working within Pfizer, she brings a wealth of knowledge media communications and has become an invaluable member of the Management Committee.

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Barry Mewett

ACT Donor Rep.

Treasurer and NT Donor Rep.

Barry became a donor husband following the sudden death of his wife, Jean, in 2005.

Multiple organs were donated, enabling a number of people to be restored to good health.   Jean would've been amazed and profoundly grateful to know so many people were assisted

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Holly Northam

Donation & Transplantation Ethics Adviser & ACT Rep

Secretary, Media Officer and QLD Donor Rep

Dr Holly Northam OAM, (PhD, RN, RM, M CritCareNurs) is an Associate Professor in Nursing at the University of Canberra (UC). Holly is a Churchill Fellow (2006); a 2022 Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy of the United Kingdom; and the inaugural international visiting fellow at the Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Previously Head of Discipline for Nursing at UC (2018- 2021), Holly served as the elected academic representative on the UC Council and Academic Board (2018-2020). Holly is a Director on the boards of ShareLife Australia and Donor Families Australia. Holly played an instrumental role in setting up and running the ACT Organ and Tissue Donation Service. Holly's PhD study, ’Hope for a peaceful death and organ donation’ identified that more must be done to alleviate suffering caused by communication failures in healthcare. In 2021 Holly took over the role of convening the Canberra Restorative Community and transitioned it to the UC.

Teaching units such as Indigenous Health: Contemporary Issues- a large cross faculty unit- has provided Holly opportunities to ‘nudge’ and help reframe the social justice responsibility held by academics in academic /student relationships – especially for Indigenous students. Evidence to support the transformational impact and outcomes of this shared work is evidenced in Holly and her 'Restorative Healthcare Team' being awarded the 2021 University of Canberra Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Category: Approaches to teaching and the support of learning that influence, motivate and inspires students to learn. Creating relationships of trust and hope for reconciliation and a new social contract of health equity for Australians.

Holly brings years of clinical experience to her research and teaching practice. Holly has a strong social justice focus that is underpinned by her professional identity as a nurse and midwife. Holly’s research and teaching approaches are framed using the lens of hope and restorative practice to identify and support people who are vulnerable to poor laws, policies and practices in health and other institutional settings. Authentic voice of the most vulnerable in healthcare, justice and child protection systems clearly heard throughout those silo’d systems are seen as pivotal to improved outcomes. This research uses strengths-based approaches to listen to and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders- using Yarning Circles as a restorative practice.

Image credit.

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Graham Harrison
NSW Donor Rep. 

Graham became heavily involved in supporting and promoting Donor Families following the passing of his 10 year old son Ben in 1993 due to failed surgery.

Having been involved in many organ donation and transplantation organisations throughout the years that followed, it has become Graham's passion as a founding member with Donor Families Australia in 2013 to assist in supporting and help grow the national organisation.

In his role as eAdministrator, Graham is responsible for the uploading and management of the Membership Database, the DFA Website, the DFA D-R Contact Register and an administrator for the Members-DFA Facebook Group.

In response to Graham's decades of commitment to supporting donor families, promoting organ/tissue donation and transplantation and the ongoing valuable work within DFA, he has been bestowed Life Membership within Donor Families Australia.

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Helen Day
NT Donor Rep. 
(additional Donor Rep. vacancy open)

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.

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Janelle Colquhoun
Recipient Rep. shared with Warwick and Qld Rep.
   (2 additional Donor Rep. Vacancy openings)

Living with Type 1 diabetes since age 10, Brisbane-born Janelle studied opera at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, and in her Post-Graduate year she also sang at World Expo'88 as a street entertainer before having a successful career as an opera singer with the Australian and Frankfurt Opera companies. At age 29 she went blind from the complications of diabetes, and subsequently experienced further complications including chronic renal failure which led to three years of home dialysis. In July 2008 Janelle received the life-saving gift of a simultaneous pancreas kidney transplant at the Westmead Hospital.

A health system frequent flyer, and passionate health consumer advocate and lobbyist, Janelle has been on 26 non-profit and government committees and was a Health Stream delegate at the 2020 Summit in Canberra, bringing up the suggestion of opt-out organ donation. She is also an award-winning writer and professional speaker, and has given concerts and spoken on diabetes, blindness, disability arts, kidney failure and organ donation around Australia and since receiving her transplant in Bermuda, Montreal, Switzerland, Dubai, London, Auckland, Berlin, New Delhi, Singapore, Kathmandu and Sri Lanka. Since 1999 she has run an entertainment and production agency specialising in professional artists with disability and has produced over 1400 events. She also still sings, and most recent Brisbane performances include her one-woman cabaret, ‘blind date’, singing with Opera Queensland, and international performances with her multinational interdisciplinary blind trio ‘Mirage’. In 2017 she took up blind archery, and in 2019 she became the Australian Indoor and Outdoor Blind archery Champion and record holder for both, and retained her title in the 2021 outdoor Blind Championships.

When covid-19 is under control she hopes to travel again and continue singing and speaking at festivals and events, and making the most out of the amazing gift she received.

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Jackie Robson
SA Donor Rep.
(additional Donor Rep. vacancy open)

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 haemorrhage.

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.

 

I would also support more research into making adults opt out of donating their organs rather than having to opt in. Making organ donation more the norm would be my ultimate dream. We need to make organ donation more visible to everybody.

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Rebecca Free
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.

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Karen Garner
TAS Living Donor Rep. 

I live in Hobart, Tasmania and have lived here for the last 19 years.  I donated a kidney to my partner, David in 2013 and we then married in 2014.  We travelled to Melbourne for the operations to occur and spent about a month there for recovery.  At the time we had a 4 year old son and we were fortunate that my mother could come from Queensland to look after him during the process.

I recognised the need for additional support for living donors during my donation process.  Whilst I understand the need for vigorous testing, both physical and mental, to ensure that the full implications of donating are explored, explained and that there will be no detrimental outcomes for the donor, the sometimes onerous testing whilst having a partner needing dialysis four times a week made this time quite stressful.

 

I am passionate about ensuring there is the support required for living donors not only leading up to the point of donation but in the immediate period and ongoing following the donation process, irrespective of the outcome and relationship between the donor and the person receiving the donation.  The Supporting Living Organ Donors Program is a welcome financial support mechanism but I feel support needs to extend further than just financial. 

I am looking forward to bringing the unique perspective of a living donor as the first to be appointed to the committee. 

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David Reynolds
Vic Donor Rep. 

I am proud to say I am a donor husband, a position I never expected to be in.   In January 2021 Neralie, my beautiful wife of 42 years, suffered a tragic accident on our farm in South Gippsland.   In February 2021 after an heroic struggle for 22 days Neralie became a Donor.   Within 3 days, Neralie's pulmonary valve had been modified with one recipient being in New Zealand and one in New South Wales.  Our 4 children and their partners and 15 grandchildren now respectively view all children differently, 'Just Wondering'

During our stay in ICU, there were serious disconnects between the Donor, Donor Families and the system which must be improved.   I aim to make the most difficult phase in a Donor and Donor Families life more respectful, informative, less painful and more inclusive.

Neralie as a registered nurse for 43 years believed, 'The Greatest Gift In Life Is The Gift Of Life Itself'

Neralie, 'Angel From Heaven Just On Loan'

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Warwick Duncan
Recipient Rep. (Vic) shared with Janette

 In July 1989, with a young family of 3 boys, Warwick was stricken with a rare hepatic virus. and had to have a liver transplant. He received that 2nd chance due to the selfless decision by a family that didn’t want another family to go through the hell that they were going through.

 

In memory of his donor, Warwick strikes something off his ‘Bucket List’ on the anniversary of his transplant every year. This has led him to achieve all sorts of adventures including skydiving, hot air ballooning, white water rafting and gliding. On the 25th anniversary of his donor’s passing he climbed the world’s highest free-stranding mountain Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

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Anthea Openshaw
WA Donor Rep.

I have lived in Bunbury, in the south-west of WA since 2005 when Neill and I moved here with our four children.  I became a donor wife in January 2014 after Neill died following a cerebral aneurysm.

 

Since Neill’s death I have changed my career and retrained as a social worker which included writing an Honours thesis on the subject of donor families meeting the recipients of their loved ones organs.  I passionately believe it should be the right of every donor family and recipient to meet if mutual consent is provided.

 

I also believe that donor families and recipients should be informed of the existence of DFA as I was unaware until several years after Neill’s donation.  Being a part of such a supportive organisation of people with shared experiences and having the opportunity to attend the 2019 DFA conference in Canberra has been incredibly rewarding for me and I look forward to working to promote and grow DFA into the future.

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Graham Harrison
Administration: eAdministrator 

Responsible for: Administering the DFA Website, Contact Register, DFA Facebook Page, Members: Donor Families Australia Facebook Group and DFA Membership Database.

 

Graham became heavily involved in supporting and promoting Donor Families following the passing of his 10 year old son Ben in 1993 due to failed surgery.

Having been involved in many organ donation and transplantation organisations throughout the years that followed, it has become Graham's passion as a founding member with Donor Families Australia in 2013 to assist in supporting and help grow the national organisation.

In his role as eAdministrator, Graham is responsible for the uploading and management of the Membership Database, the DFA Website, the DFA D-R Contact Register and an administrator for the Members-DFA Facebook Group

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Philippa Waldron
Administration:  Membership

Responsible for: Welcoming new members and the issuing of Remembrance email on the anniversary of Loved Ones passing.

 

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.

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Warwick Duncan
 Administration: Social Media

Responsible for: Administering DFA Twitter and Instagram Accounts and assisting both of DFA's Facebook Accounts.

 

In July 1989, with a young family of 3 boys, Warwick was stricken with a rare hepatic virus. and had to have a liver transplant. He received that 2nd chance due to the selfless decision by a family that didn’t want another family to go through the hell that they were going through.

 

In memory of his donor, Warwick strikes something off his ‘Bucket List’ on the anniversary of his transplant every year. This has led him to achieve all sorts of adventures including skydiving, hot air ballooning, white water rafting and gliding. On the 25th anniversary of his donor’s passing he climbed the world’s highest free-stranding mountain Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Administration Sub-committee

Our Committee of Management: Meet the Team
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