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:
- 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
- Ossie’s Transport
- Ord Minnett
- Vroom vroom vroom
- Network Ten television
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.
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TOMORROW: Rabbi Gutnik apology
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)