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‘It’s so important’: Push to overhaul organ donation laws, shift to opt-out system

The Law Institute of Victoria is pushing for the overhaul of organ and tissue donation laws.

The group has written to Attorney-General Jill Hennessey asking her to refer the Human Tissue Act 1982 to the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

Stuart Webb, President of the Law Institute of Victoria, said Australia’s laws were progressive when they were put into place in 1982, but they are now outdated.

Mr Webb says Australia should shift from an opt-in to an opt-out organ donation process.

“Sixty-three per cent of countries have opt-out (processes),” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“Wales has just recently instituted it, and I understand the rest of the UK, in 2020, is changing to an opt-out system.”

Organ donation rates are already on the rise, but Mr Webb said changing the system will help boost them further.

“In Wales, they did this whole opt out process and 20 per cent of people said ‘we’re going to opt out,” Mr Webb said.

Last year, 193 people donated their organs in Australia, up from 67 in 2009.

Mr Webb said changing the process is about “changing the culture” around organ donation.

He also called for better clarification on who has the final say in organ donation, and the circumstances in which a person’s decision can be overridden by their next of kin.

Nicole donated her five-year-old’s organs after he died in 2013.

She urged everyone to consider donating their organs.

“We lived in the Royal Children’s Hospital, and you see children die every day because they don’t receive organs,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“It’s so important to have this conversation with your family.”