Bravehearts Organisation (Or: Social Entrepreneur)


Image: The “Lawnmower Man”, who has now raised over $600,000 for Bravehearts, with M.P. Bob Katter

Bravehearts Inc. is a child protection awareness organisation founded and led by Hetty Johnson in 1996. Hetty was motivated by the revelation of abuse of her daughter by a family member. Her organisation employs over 50 people, and is the organisation of choice for media outlets seeking comment on the issue of child sexual abuse.

During the national child protection week, her group runs “White Balloon Day”. This year the main function was attended by Royal Commission chairman, Peter Mc.Clellan, who was the guest speaker and praised the organisation highly.

Johnston has published a book detailing her beliefs called “In the Best Interests of the Child.” In 2004, Hetty Johnston unsuccessfully stood for the Senate, with sponsorship from a television network.

In 2010, Bravehearts invited the Catholic Church to officially participate in her White Balloon Day activities. In a joint press release, Sr. Angela Ryan of the Catholic Church National Committee for Professional Standards (which handles its child abuse complaints), said that “We are happy to accept the invitation from Bravehearts  to
participate in this national campaign by flying white balloons outside our Churches and Schools during Child Protection Week.”

The press release goes on to say that “Signaling significant positive action in child protection, the Catholic Church Australia today announced its national support for
Bravehearts’ White Balloon Day campaign,” and that “The Catholic Church in Australia has taken the lead in the churches of Australia in changing the culture of silence and secrecy that has historically accompanied child sexual assault.”

Hetty, in the same press release is quoted as saying that “The Catholic Church’s lead involvement in White Balloon Day marks publicly their active involvement in being part of changing the culture of silence around child sexual assault.  We applaud the Catholic Church of Australia for their bold stance and look forward to a long and effective working relationship in providing world class protection for children no matter in what environment or culture.”

Bravehearts also has the active support of the Anglican Church. Primate Phillip Aspinall (see previous postings) said, in 2005, “I commend the day and pray it will be effective in achieving its purpose”.

Bravehearts receives considerable government support, including recently a $5.1 million grant associated with the Royal Commission (see previous posting). It also receives considerable corporate support. Among its corporate “partners”, Bravehearts lists the following:

  • Google
  • AAMI insurance group
  • Bendigo Bank
  • Westpac Bank
  • Black and White cabs
  • Brisbane Broncos football club
  • Radio 4BC
  • Southern Cross Austereo
  • Henry Davis York corporate law firm
  • Nutrimetics
  • Ossie’s Transport
  • Ord Minnett
  • Vroom vroom vroom
  • Network Ten television
  • NRL

It has also received donations from many other corporate bodies, including Commonwealth Bank and McDonald’s. KPMG financial was also as recent donor. Centori, a privately owned and independent Australian adventure company operates tours known as “Bravehearts adventures” promoting Bravehearts. Recently, Ernst Young accountants gave her their “Social Entrepreneur” award.

Given that Bravehearts has so many government, corporate, media and church affiliations, and its place as the most prominent child protection advocacy organisation in Australia, its views will figure prominently during the Royal Commission. The above information is given for the historical context and so that people can interpret the organization’s responses to the general issues raised at the enquiry.

Read more here:

TOMORROW: Rabbi Gutnik apology

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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3 Responses to Bravehearts Organisation (Or: Social Entrepreneur)

  1. Hippie says:

    Nov06 No the chocolate bar analogy is floored! For one I’m not God! But it’s also interesting to ask why the tree was placed there in the first place. I think that’s my point – why place it there? I don’t think that it was poisonous either, it gave them greater knowledge – made them more God like, is that a bad thing? I think that there is &#68s8;1inࢩ in here but I’ll move onto that at a later date…Thanks for the comments – I wrestling with this one too, so value the reflections.

  2. Nicky Davis says:

    When I explained to Hetty Johnston in 2010 that Bravehearts giving the Catholic Church a tick of approval re child protection that they didn’t, and still don’t, deserve, would be harmful and hurtful to Catholic survivors, she was unmoved.

    I asked Hetty in person to consider how it would feel to be a survivor and see that the parish where they were abused, and which still covers up the crimes, endangers children, ostracises victims and denies them help with healing, was promoting itself as having already achieved a high standard of child protection, with the full support of an institution supposedly helping survivors.

    Hetty’s compassionate reply was “Some things are more important”.

    The fact that Bravehearts thought this was an appropriate course of action immediately lost them the support of many Catholic survivors. The fact that they were also making money out of increasing the suffering of survivors – the Catholic Church paid for this endorsement of their pathetic excuse for child protection – infuriated even more.

    The fact that it did not result in the Catholic Church improving child protection does not surprise survivors. It is a very flawed exercise. Except in terms of fundraising.

    Catholic survivors have long found that Bravehearts has very little time or interest in helping us. That is until our efforts to demand a Royal Commission, efforts which in recent years were not supported by Bravehearts, finally resulted in the present Royal Commission and a greater availability of government funding for support groups.

    I record this information so that survivors can assess Bravehearts priorities accurately.

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