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Hetty Johnston AM

Founder and Director of Bravehearts

Australia’s leading child protection advocate.

A born lobbyist, Hetty is a woman of passion and determination who has succeeded in highlighting the crime of paedophilia and child sexual assault to media, families, schools and the general community both nationally and internationally.

Her vision, leadership and downright tenacity has enabled Hetty to literally change the way we deal with child sexual assault in this country.

Not one to hope that things ‘will change in due course’, Hetty has forged a path in the area of child protection that dozens of organisations now follow.

I have a figurine in my office of a frog being half submerged in a birds mouth. The frog has its fingers wrapped around the birds neck - stopping it from swallowing. Underneath is the statement: NEVER GIVE UP. That's me. I'll never give up!
Hetty Johnston AM

Hetty’s most recent accolades include:

  • Australian Businesswomen’s 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2015 Queensland Australian of the Year
  • Inducted 2015 into Logan’s Wall of Acclaim
  • Awarded in 2014 as Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Hetty is author of national awareness campaign, ‘White Balloon Day’, ‘Sexual Assault Disclosure Scheme (SADS)’, ‘Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure’ child protection CD-Rom and her autobiography, ‘In the Best Interests of the Child’ (2004).

Hetty has been a contributing author to various books including, ‘Crime on my Mind’, and ‘Women on Top’.

Hetty has been recognised for her outstanding contributions to child protection with numerous awards and nominations over her career since 1997.

In 2013 Hetty was awarded Ernst & Young Northern Australia’s Social Entrepreneur of the year, Westpac’s 2013 ‘100 Women of Influence’ and YWCA Queensland’s’ ‘125 Leading Women’. She was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in 2010 and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Community Practice and Governance (March 2010). In early 2009, Hetty was recognised as one of approximately 70 outstanding leaders worldwide, receiving the prestigious annual Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership award.

Hetty is the recipient of two Australian Lawyers Alliance Civil Justice Awards (2003, 2004).

Her responsibilities include/d:

  • Chaired the Queensland Child Protection Week Committee for three years
  • Held a position on the Board of NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect)
  • Held a position on the Board with ASCA (Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse)
  • Sat as Chair for the Endeavour Foundation’s ‘Abuse Prevention and Response Committee’
  • Was a participant on the Federal Government’s Working Party on a ‘National Approach to Child Protection’
  • Currently sits on the Federal Governments working party on Cyber-Safety
  • Is currently an advisor to the Qld Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, and
  • Working with the Federal Governments’ Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Hetty is a much sought after speaker at Local, State, Federal and International levels including the International Virtual Global Taskforce Conference hosted by the Australian Federal Police in Sydney 2010.

She is consistently sought after by media for commentary on issues pertaining to child protection and has been the subject of personal profile in many print media, talk back radio and television documentaries such as Australian Story.

Hetty works with government and non-government agencies on legislative reform, submissions, lobbying and research to improve child protection and political accountability in Australia.

Hetty’s efforts as a child protection advocate have included:

  • Establishing Bravehearts, a registered, non-profit charity that provides specialist counselling services for children and adults of child sexual assault
  • Creating Bravehearts’ national awareness campaign, ‘White Balloon Day, now acknowledged and supported by the Commonwealth of Australia and it’s COAG partners through Outcome Six of the National Framework for the protection of Australia’s Children 2009—2020
  • Creating the ‘Sexual Assault Disclosure Scheme’ (SADS): a safe, protective opportunity for survivors to disclose perpetrators of sexual assault, while remaining anonymous
  • Authoring ‘Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure’ CD-Rom, an interactive tool in teaching children about personal safety
  • Establishing our School-based personal safety education program based on Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure CD-Rom, including running a Cairns and Far North QLD highly successful personal safety Indigenous appropriate education program. This show has been seen by over 450,000 children, and
  • Advocating for survivor’s rights through participation in legislative review and reform.

Successful Campaigns Include:

  • The introduction in Queensland of indefinite sentencing for dangerous paedophiles.
  • The closure of Queensland’s Department of Family Services, The introduction of the Child Abduction (Amber) Alert system in Australia.
  • The instigation of various formal Inquiries, and successful amendments to legislation, including the right to speak publicly and the Child Protection Act (Section 189) and children’s right Amendment Bill 2002/Civil Liability Bill 2002.