A single donation can save three lives, but threats to individual’s security leaves many unwilling to donate again.
It’s been one week since the news broke of the personal data of 550,000 donors being accessed following what is one of Australia’s largest data breaches.
People are afraid, and rightly so, as information including full names, addresses and sexual behaviours were made public.
Red Cross Blood Service chief executive Shelly Park says the error was caused by a contractor, and investigations are ongoing with the Australian Federal Police and Australian Cyber Security Centre about the extent of the breach. You can read more about the investigation here.
While Australian donors have been warned there is an increased risk to their online security and to be on the look out for phone and email scams, Australia still needs blood.
Today, the waiting room of my local donor centre was almost empty. Hopefully this was just a timing issue, but it was obvious there were more staff working the floor than needed.
The blood people donate can be made into 22 different types of medicine including vital treatments for pregnant women, cancer patients and trauma survivors. In short, blood donations are crucial for the health of the country.
Yes, the data breach is terrible and I can understand why many people don’t want to donate. Yes, The Red Cross has policies that need to be looked at including it’s ban of donations from gay men. But more importantly, yes, blood donations are still desperately needed.
My donation today marked my 10th plasma donation, and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, however, as I looked around the almost empty donor room it turned to despair. We need donors all the time, so we desperately need them now.
Hopefully Australians understand the importance of blood donations and keep returning to help their fellow man, despite the human error that caused this security breach – because that’s all it was. A human error. It could (and has) have happened to any other organisation at any time. Our blood is more important than fear and paranoia.
I hope when I go back for my next plasma appointment in two weeks, there will be more people in the waiting room alongside me.
The Red Cross Donate Blood Website has more information on the investigation online, and has set up a hotline if you have any pressing questions.
We understand people will be concerned about this and have established an inbox for people to access further information or ask questions. A dedicated hotline has also been established if you would like to speak with one of our staff.
Hotline: 13 95 96
Today: 0900-1700 EDST
Monday-Thursday: 0700-2130 EDST
We have also arranged access to IDCARE, a national identity and cyber support service, who can provide counselling support from specialist counsellors and information on additional responses that may be unique to your own situation.