28 September 2016

Hetty Johnston AMEnsuring that each child can grow and develop in a safe and supportive environment so that they can reach their potential is a responsibility that we, as a society, share but not every child has that opportunity.

Tragically one in five children will be sexually assaulted in some way before they reach the age of 18 years, the effects of which can last a lifetime.

Through her roles as University of South Australia educator, author, scholar and ambassador, Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs, AO, ceaselessly and passionately worked towards her vision of providing a safer and more caring world for all children.

In recognition of this important work, the University of South Australia, School of Education is tonight presenting the ‘Inaugural Memorial Lecture for Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs, AO,’ delivered by founder and Chair of the Bravehearts Foundation and Australia’s leading child protection advocate, Hetty Johnston, AM (pictured right).

“We know how that the carnage of sexual abuse manifests itself, not only in the victims and their families, but also in our communities across every cultural and socio economic demographic,” Johnston says.

“We also know that this is for the large part, preventable.

“The challenge is changing the culture of ignorance and denial that chooses to minimise, dismiss and ‘turn the other cheek’ to what can only be described as a growing crisis facing our kids and our society.”

Hetty Johnston will tonight again call for a Royal Commission into Australia’s Family Law system which she says is failing in its duty of care to protect Australia’s most vulnerable children.

“It is a broken institution driven by largely broken, mythical and outdated philosophies and beliefs,” Johnston says.

“We need a Royal Commission into this system inclusive of the courts, police, child safety departments, lawyers, mental health professionals, the health and education providers and family relationship services.

“Together these bureaucracies, and others, collaborate in a systemic chorus of discoordination, dysfunction and indifference - unwittingly embedding and defending the gaps through which the safety of our children is forsaken.

“We have come a long way but with so much further to travel it must be asked……what will it take for those with the power to protect our kids and commit to prioritising the best interests of the child to prevent the preventable through thorough investigation of the record of the family law system in relation to child sexual assault?”

The first of what will be an annual lecture, tonight’s event honours Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs, AO, a trailblazer in child protection research, whose work influenced policy and practice globally.

Event details: This event  has been cancelled for September 28 and will be rescheduled to take place at a later date. 

Hetty Johnston is the Founder and Chair of the Bravehearts Foundation.

Bravehearts has been actively contributing to the provision of child sexual assault services across Australia since 1997 and is dedicated to addressing the issues surrounding child sexual assault and protecting Australian children against sexual harm.

For further information and to register click here.

Media contact: Katrina McLachlan mobile: 0414972537 email: katrina.mclachlan@unisa.edu.au

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