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Statement of Response to article in The Australian, 2 December 2016

December 2, 2016

My name is Hetty Johnston AM, Bravehearts’ Founder and Chair and I write this while on holiday in Fiji.  I am more than a little perplexed as to why, every time Bravehearts starts a campaign to crack down on those who sexually assault our kids, as we are doing now, these faceless trolls and disenfranchised get to work at trying to undermine the good work, reputation and credibility of the Bravehearts Foundation and me personally.  

Bravehearts are calling for a Federal Royal Commission into the Family Law Systems of Australia and we will not stop until we get it. Clearly we are rattling some cages – good.

Again we are being targeted by vindictive, baseless and ignorant allegations and assertions about me and my family on social media.  Those rants have now been heard and reported by print media who, while acknowledging no wrong-doing by me or Bravehearts, must know that this type of press plants seeds of doubt against our integrity.  That is exactly what the faceless trolls, the disenfranchised and the paedophile fraternity want and that is why I am responding.

My husband and I started the charity in 1996, after a disclosure by our daughter that she had been sexually harmed.  We purchased the Springwood property in 1999 when we were unable to find space for the organisation because nobody would rent to us.  The (then) mayor told us nobody wanted us. So my husband and I purchased the property with 100+% borrowed money.

Ian is a floor-sander and it is his self-employed income and hard work that paid for the Interest only repayments on the Springwood premises for some years until Bravehearts took them over.  I worked without pay for some 9 years along with others, some of whom are still with the organisation today.  During this time, my husband sweated his heart out, working long hours week after week, year after year until we began to receive some donations to help us meet the financial needs of the organisation, things like stationery, fuel, equipment, IT and phone bills. 

During this same time, Bravehearts work exposed the Foster Care crisis facing Qld kids which would lead to the closure of the Qld Dept of Families, we called for, and won, the resignation of Australia’s then Governor General Peter Hollingsworth (former Anglican Archbishop) and we lobbied for and won the introduction of Blue Cards, the Indefinite detention of dangerous sex offenders legislation, the Sexual Assault Disclosure Scheme and so much more.  We started White Balloon Day and finally began to break the silence on child sexual assault.

In or around 2009 I started to draw a meagre wage and over time that wage has incrementally gone from zero to $158,000 currently (to answer yet another ‘anonymous’ critic on the net).  I work 24/7 as anyone who knows anything about Bravehearts or me will attest. 

The Head Office moved from the Springwood address in 2008 to the Gold Coast when a purpose-built premises was donated to the charity. Vital counselling and support services continue to run from Springwood however the space is now too small and we are actively looking for a new premises in Logan.  If anyone will rent us their commercial space for @$27,000 pa – must be easy walking distance to public transport, have four or more counselling rooms, office space and facilities for 10 people etc please do let me know – we will be there like a shot!

As reported in The Australian, it cost my husband and I over $1milion dollars in time and money to start and grow the charity – money we deliberately invested in the safety of all children.  Our integrity and ethical foundations are without compromise and I take offence to any suggestion otherwise. We have always declared any and all perceived or actual conflicts of interest and have exceeded all reporting and auditing requirements.

In closing I repeat my comment reported in The Australian today – for those who are trying to distract us and/or damage our ability to stay on our mission of protecting kids …..  “long walk, short pier”.   

Bravehearts remain happy to respond to genuine questions and concerns but we will not be held ransom to those whose only motive is to stop us from our mission of preventing child sexual assault and further their own agendas.   

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