National Strategy for Organ Donation, Retrieval and Transplantation Consultation

Closed 3 Jul 2022

Opened 23 May 2022


The organ donation and transplantation sector in Australia has seen significant growth since the beginning of the national program in 2009. Although the COVID-19 pandemic impacted recent organ donation and transplantation rates in Australia and internationally, Australians continued to publicly support donation through a record number of new registrations on the Australian Organ Donor Register in 2021.

In 2017, media reports highlighted concerns around inequitable access to transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, prompting a review of the Australian organ donation, retrieval and transplantation system (the Review). The COAG Health Council agreed in April 2018 that the Commonwealth should work with all states and territories to undertake this Review.

The Review of the Australian organ donation and transplantation system Final Report (Final Report) found that the increased donation activity has placed downstream pressure on organ retrieval and transplantation services, putting strain on the capacity and capability of the system to maintain growth. A key finding was that enhancements to the current system are required to sustain and continue to drive optimal transplantation outcomes.

The Final Report identified the following three key priorities for action: 

  • developing a national strategy to meet the expected increase in organ transplantation volumes;
  • improving governance to optimise future growth and sustainability of the donation, retrieval and transplantation system;
  • developing a nationally-driven approach to focus and improve organ donation and transplantation rates and outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and Australians who live in rural and remote locations.

The draft National Strategy for Organ Donation, Retrieval and Transplantation (Strategy) has been developed through discussions with government, jurisdictional officials and the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA).  Development of the Strategy has also considered evidence-based international best practice donation, retrieval and transplantation data and information; the work undertaken by the Transplantation Society of Australian and New Zealand (TSANZ) including the Performance Report: Improving Access to and Outcomes of Kidney Transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Australia; the work of the National Indigenous Kidney Transplant Taskforce (NIKTT); and the Parliamentary Inquiry into Human Organ Trafficking and Organ Transplant Tourism.

The draft Strategy sets out the future direction of the Australian organ donation, retrieval and transplantation system, as agreed by all governments. The draft Strategy aims to underpin policy and program delivery to provide enhanced access to transplantation for all Australians who need it. It complements the OTA’s existing Progressing Australian organ and tissue donation and transplantation to 2025 Strategic Plan, which has been agreed by all jurisdictional health departments.


Why your views matter

The Department of Health is seeking input from clinicians, peak bodies, transplant recipients, donor families and other interested parties to strengthen the evidence base for this Strategy. The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders, including members of the community, are valued and will contribute to the final policy.

A clear and well-focused Strategy will ensure Australia has the best systems in place to support organ donation and to optimise transplantation outcomes.

The Strategy sets out goals and actions across four Priority Areas:

  1. A national approach to optimise organ donation, retrieval and transplantation;
  2. Equitable access for Australians who would benefit from organ transplantation with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those living in rural, regional and remote areas;
  3. Enhanced organ retrieval and transplantation capability and capacity to optimise transplant outcomes; and
  4. Enhanced systems and data collection and reporting to drive clinical best practice.

Underpinning the Priority Areas are nine Goals that provide a clear statement of the outcomes all governments are aiming to achieve through this Strategy. Actions, to be agreed by all governments, will be detailed in a forthcoming Implementation Plan to enable delivery of these goals.

You can provide feedback via this consultation survey. The Strategy and the Final Report have been provided as attachments at the bottom of this page. The relevant section of the Strategy will also be provided with the questions throughout the survey.

The approach to implementation, when the Strategy is finalised, will include clear mechanisms for engagement, such as appropriate consultation structures identified by the sector.

The Implementation Plan will complement and build on the OTA’s Progressing Australian organ and tissue donation and transplantation to 2025 Strategic Plan, which is delivered collaboratively by the OTA, the national DonateLife Network, and Commonwealth, state and territory health departments.

What happens next

Public Consultation of the National Strategy for Organ Donation, Retrieval and Transplantation on the Department was closed at 11:59pm on Sunday 3 July 2022. On behalf of all Austalian Governments, the Department of Health has begun analysing submisions received and will use them to finalise the document.


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