Three Minute Squiz With… Cindy Barry

Cindy Barry is one of those people who once you meet, you don’t forget. Her terrific energy and get-on-with-it attitude mean she’s someone you want on your team. So we were thrilled to find that 1. she’s a Squizer, and 2. she’s the CEO of DonateLife, the government’s organ donation authority. Because such an important cause needs someone like her to push it along. Please welcome Cindy to the Three Minute Squiz.

When and where do you Squiz?
It’s pretty hectic in the morning at home with my young girls (9 and 5yo) so I usually Squiz when I get into the office with my coffee!

You’re the CEO of DonateLife, the government’s organ and tissue donation authority. What brought you to the role?
My first career started at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where I trained as a registered nurse, specialised in Emergency and then became one of the first Trauma Nurse Coordinators in Victoria.

My second career was working in Government, both in the public service and spending over eight years in total as a ministerial adviser (in social policy including health) at Parliament House in Canberra. So I understand how it works at a department level and up on ‘the Hill’.

What an amazing opportunity to bring all of my experience together to lead organ donation and increase the number of people receiving a life-saving transplant in Australia.

What should we know about the state of organ and tissue donation in Australia
Since it started nine years ago, the national program has seen the number of organ donors more than double which has resulted in more than 10,000 people receiving a lifesaving transplant. Critical to this is our DonateLife specialist staff which includes 250 doctors and nurses across 95 hospitals in Australia. Whilst we know most Australians say they are willing to be a donor, we need them to join the Australian Donor Register and tell their family they want to be a donor. It would be great if everyone talked openly about donation.

Your job must have some incredible highs and lows given you’re dealing with real life and death situations. How do you keep an even keel?
I was an emergency/trauma nurse specialist for 10 years so have great grounding to keep a good balance between work and personal life. I have always been comfortable with talking with the team after a significant and emotional event. I have a fabulous husband who I debrief with – he really understands (he was on a police/rescue helicopter for many years). We sometimes do this over a wine!!

What’s your guilty TV-watching secret?
My other way to de-stress is a passionate saga! I have been watching Velvet on Netflix Spain’s version of Mr Selfridge– family matriarchs of the retail world. Think love story, family dynamics and betrayal! It has subtitles but I don’t really notice! The accent has helped me when speaking to our Spanish colleagues, who are the world leaders in “donacin de Organos”

What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did?
I wish I could sing!

Your go-to karaoke song?
See above. But I can bust a move!!

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience! I was an Emergency nurse things were time critical.

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with?
A few years ago I would have said Dame Judy Dench (hopefully all the 007’s might show up too), Robbie Williams (who wouldn’t want him there), Princess Diana (amazing) and Roger Federer (just all round nice superstar). BUT now I would just love to have the chance to sit again with the two greatest women in my life my mum and nana.

What’s your best and worst habit?
Best – writing lists! Keeps me organised and focused.
Worst – nails. Thank God for Shellac.

What’s your favourite book and/or author?
Mao’s Last Dancer & the Harry Potter series.

What’s your no-fail dinner party menu?
Roast pumpkin and feta salad served with eye fillet (King Island I lived there as a kid!). Golden syrup dumplings for dessert!

What qualities do you most value in a friend?
Being on the end of the phone when I need support but also not getting cranky when I don’t regularly call!

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story we should know about?
Child abuse and neglect. As a parent I cannot believe that so many children are still in homes that do not provide them love and protection.

If I want to donate, what do I need to do?
It only takes a minute! Grab your Medicare card and go to You can click to register or you can get more information. I dare you!! And don’t forget to tell your family and friends.

*Buy a book from Booktopia using the links provided and The Squiz gets a little commission

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.