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Hetty Johnston AM

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

Her vision, leadership, and tenacity has enabled Hetty to literally change the way we deal with child sexual assault and exploitation 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:

  • 2018 named number 48 of Queensland’s most influential people
  • 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 the creator of national awareness campaign White Balloon Day, Sexual Assault Disclosure Scheme (SADS), Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure Show and author of an 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 in 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
  • Worked with the Federal Government’s 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 profiles in many print media, talkback 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, not-for-profit charity that provides specialist counselling services for children and families affected by 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 tool 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 a personal safety education program based on Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure CD-Rom, including running an Indigenous appropriate version of the program in Cairns and Far North QLD
  • 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, the Child Protection Act (Section 189), and children’s right Amendment Bill 2002/Civil Liability Bill 2002.