The Road Ahead : August 2014
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 13 AUG/SEP 2014 THE ROAD AHEAD Bravehearts. But behind that public persona of driven advocate, does she 'have a life'? To find out, we put to her these questions: Q. Tell us about your younger days. A. Well, I was born in Geelong. I was raised there and, at about 12 or 13, moved to Ocean Grove. I then moved to Melbourne to work in what was the first online computer company (she was an accountant). I came to Queensland in 1987 and I would never go anywhere else. Q. Your husband, Ian, is on record as saying: "It's just no grey areas with Hetty. It's black or white, nothing in between. Right's right, wrong's wrong." Is that an accurate summation? A. Yeah, pretty much. I've probably softened since then. I think he was referring to (my attitude towards the subject of child sexual assault), not life in general. To sexually offend against a child is wrong. There are no grey areas. No tolerance at all. Zero. Q. How do you balance your life? A. (Laughs). Wow, I try, but I'm not sure I do a good job, to be frank. I never really turn off, but I have a beautiful family and gorgeous friends and they're my support. We (me and my family) love our music and we socialise a lot. Q. What interests do you have? A. I love to cook. If I've got something on my mind, I head to the kitchen and my family and friends are very happy about that (laughs). I love it. That keeps me sane. Q. Where is the most unusual place you've been recognised? A. Las Vegas. I hopped into a limousine that was taking us to a helicopter for a flight over the Grand Canyon and a woman looked up and said, "Hello, Hetty". I've also been spotted in Bangkok. Australians are everywhere, though. Q. You inspire and motivate a lot of people. But who do you take inspiration and motivation from? A. Gosh, so many -- my husband, my colleagues at work particularly, the Oprah Winfreys of the world who speak publically, survivors everywhere, brave people, children who speak out. I'm so lucky I've got so many extraordinary people in my life -- the patrons of Bravehearts, board members -- all incredibly intelligent passionate people. They keep me energised. Then there are the kids I see come through here. The first time, they're a bit scared and don't know what's happening, their whole world has changed because someone has harmed them in some way -- or threatened to -- then you see them a few weeks later and they're charging in with a drawing for their counsellor. Everything has changed for them. That sends tingles down your spine. That keeps you going. That's inspiring. Q. In the recent Queen's Birthday honours, you were made a Member of the Order of Australia. What did that mean to you? A. It made me very proud, but I haven't done it alone. There is this amazing group of people I work with. It's recognition for them, too. Best of all, it's recognition (for our cause)." Q. If there's anything you could change, what would it be? A. It would be about children. I'd make children the centre of our world. I'd make everything we do -- by way of government policy, legislation, what we do in our business lives, our private lives -- about children. I'd make wellbeing the first port of call. If we did, we would have a much healthier population. We wouldn't have the drug and alcohol abuse and the criminality, a lot of the squalor, if we just protected our children. Q. You no doubt have seen the worst of humanity in what you do, but I suspect you would also see some extraordinary good. Can you give us an example? A. Every day. Every day we hear of the tragedy and see it. But I go to bed with a smile because I know -- and everyone else here (at Bravehearts) does -- that every time we pick up the phone we're changing the lives of the thousands who ring here. I could never imagine myself doing anything else. It's the most amazing thing to be involved in. FOR MORE ABOUT BRAVEHEARTS' SUPPORT SERVICES, GO TO BRAVEHEARTS.ORG.AU. I'd make everything we do -- by way of government policy, legislation, what we do in our business lives, our private lives -- about children ... We wouldn't have the drug and alcohol abuse and the criminality, a lot of the squalor, if we just protected our children THE WOMAN BEHIND THE NAME Hetty Johnston is the founder and executive director of Bravehearts Inc., the organisation actively advocating for child protection against sexual assault. The recipient of several awards, she: • 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 of ASCA (Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse). • Sat as Chair of the Endeavour Foundation’s Abuse Prevention and Response Committee. • Was a participant of the Federal Government’s Working Party on a National Approach to Child Protection. • Sits on the Federal Government's Online Safety Consultative Working Group. • Is an advisor to the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Enquiry.
June July 2014