About Hetty

Hetty Johnston - Queensland Independent for The Australian Senate


Hetty Johnston AM is the founder of Bravehearts Foundation Ltd,Australia’s leading child protection organisation. A born lobbyist and reformist, she has been recognised nationally and internationally as a woman of integrity, passion and determination with the ability to create the real change needed to help real people.

Having created national prevention programs, increased sentencing for child sex offenders and protected hundreds of thousands of children across Australia, Hetty believes she has achieved as much as she can from outside the political sphere. The time has come for her to advocate from inside Canberra’s Parliament House and she intends to do that by being elected an independent Senate candidate in the upcoming Federal election.

Child protection will always be Hetty’s number one priority and she has pledged to never stop pursuing her vision of Australia being the safest place in the world to raise a child. However, she has strong views on other societal issues that need to be addressed and is looking forward to using her energy, commitment and strengths to protect the rights and best interests of all Australians.

Hetty has spent almost 30 years being a voice for our community. She has succeeded in drawing attention to and inspiring positive change on issues such as the environment, criminal justice, education, health, small business and child safety. She has crusaded for political accountability and been a passionate voice for Queenslanders.

Now she wants to dedicate that same commitment on a greater stage.

What Hetty has seen

Like most Australians Hetty has stopped believing in our politicians. For almost three decades, she has been on the receiving end of their unfulfilled promises, their deceit and their self-interest.  We have to reclaim our democracy.  We have a right to believe again.

What Hetty will do

Hetty will be an independent voice for Queenslanders. A woman of substance who delivers, she will fight with her trademark passion and commitment to ensure that common sense, the people’s best interests and a fair go prevails for the community she loves.

Hetty’s Story

Hetty and her family have socialised, worked and played in Queensland since 1987. After a career in senior finance and business for 15 years, she entered the public consciousness in the 1990s when she led a successful community campaign against a state government lie – a broken promise to not build a toll road through South-East Queensland suburbs, forests and koala habitat. This taste of activism led to her being appointed the Queensland Leader of the then Australian Democrats from 1995-97.

In 1996 Hetty’s seven-year-old daughter bravely disclosed sexual abuse by a family member that led to the exposure of a 40-year reign of terror perpetrated against two generations of girls. While the offender went to jail and Hetty’s family sought private counselling, the lack of public services for children and the cultural silence surrounding child sexual assault and exploitation motivated her to found Bravehearts in 1997. Since then, Hetty’s daughter has blossomed while her mother has gone on to become Australia’s leading voice in the fight against paedophilia.

In Her Own Words …

“I love Queensland – this is our home. I first moved to Logan City with my family in 1987 where we established our small business that still operates today. We raised our family here. Our children went to school here. We continue to work and play here.

“Throughout the early 1990s I gained invaluable experience successfully fighting for our community against the construction of a tollway through Australia’s largest remaining koala habitat. We won and my passion for advocacy was born.

“In 1995 I joined the then Australian Democrats to ‘keep the bastards honest’ and eventually became the party’s state leader, heading the debate on issues such as education, transport, environment, health, small business and political accountability. I learned much about media, lobbying, policy and politics across state and federal lines and was on a path to make independent politics my life’s work.

“Then, in 1996, a family disclosure of child sexual assault changed our lives forever and led me to create Bravehearts. Now, more than 22 years later, the charity has become a nationally and internationally recognised, respected and sought-after organisation that educates, empowers and protects Australian children from sexual assault. My vision will always be to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.

“Since Braveheart’s inception, I have relied on truth, integrity, common sense, hard work and my strong voice to successfully take the issue of child sexual assault out of the shadows and into the light. As a result of this persistence, this distinction was acknowledged and supported by the Commonwealth Government and its COAG partners through the National Framework for the Protection of Australia’s Children (2009-2020) and reflected in the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Now the time has come to fight for change from inside Parliament House. I believe I am the best person to advocate for Queenslanders in the Federal Senate and my track record speaks volumes about my capacity to lead and deliver.

“It would be my greatest honour to represent the people of Queensland. I put myself forward for your consideration and I promise that I will not let you down.

Hetty’s achievements include:

  • 2018 Named No: 48 – Qld 100 most influential People
  • 2016 Australian Businesswomen’s ‘Hall of Fame’
  • 2016 Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD)
  • 2015 Australian of the Year for Queensland
  • 2014 Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  • 2013 Ernst & Young (Northern Australia) Social Entrepreneur of the Year
  • 2013 Financial Review & Westpac’s Top ‘100 Women of Influence’
  • 2012 Finalist Telstra Business Women’s Awards
  • 2010 Paul Harris Fellowship – Rotary International
  • 2009 Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award
  • 2004 & 2003 Australian Lawyers Alliance Civil Justice Award
  • Justice of the Peace (Qual)
  • Member Australian e-Safety Commissioners Online Safety Consultative Working Group
  • Member QFCC Advisory Council
  • Graduate of the Australian Institute of Community Practice and Governance