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Hetty Johnston to take child protection battle to Federal Senate

Embargoed until 9am AEDT – Wednesday 27 March, 2019

Hetty Johnston to take
child protection battle to Federal Senate


Child protection advocate Hetty Johnston is calling on Queenslanders to “believe again” after announcing she will run as an independent Senate candidate in the Federal election.

Dismayed by what she considers the self-interest and mismanagement of major political parties, Ms Johnston has decided the best way to achieve her goal of a safer Australia for children is from within Parliament House in Canberra.

This will include an increased push for a Royal Commission into Australia’s family law system, a call that has repeatedly been rejected by the major parties.

“I’ve spent 22 years fighting this fight and I feel like I’ve done as much as I can outside of the political tent,” said Ms Johnston, who founded renowned child protection organisation Bravehearts in 1997.

“The only thing I haven’t done is advocate for children from inside Parliament and now is the right time to do just that. Being an independent means that I will be free to lobby for the causes I truly believe in. I will not be beholden to any party and no one will be telling me what to say or do.

“Like most people, I don’t believe in our politicians anymore. We’ve all seen the smoke and mirrors, the lies and distractions. We’ve lost faith and hope, but we have the right to believe again.

“It’s time to hold our politicians accountable and that’s exactly what I am planning to do.”

Ms Johnston said she had met with the three most recent prime ministers and the leader of the opposition to discuss the urgent need for a Royal Commission into the family law system – and each had failed her.

“They’ve all looked at me and said they know the crisis situation our kids are in, that young lives are being destroyed daily, but they don’t want to have a royal commission,” she said.

“As a parent and grandparent, I can’t understand how any adult, let alone the prime minister, can know what they know and not act. It’s not because they can’t. It’s because they won’t and being elected to Federal Parliament will help me change that.”

Ms Johnston, who was Queensland leader of the then Australian Democrats in the 1990s, said she had strong views on other societal issues that needed to be addressed.

“Child protection will always be my number one priority but you don’t work in this space without being well qualified to address other concerns,” she said.

“I’ve run national and state companies, owned two small businesses and built Bravehearts from nothing to be Australia’s leading child protection organisation.

“From the environment and economy to immigration and education, I have thoughts on what needs to be done and look forward to working with like-minded candidates and politicians with a proven track record of integrity to deliver the change our country needs.

Having now stood down as chairperson of Bravehearts, Ms Johnston said her presence in Canberra would be a major boost for the organisation’s cause.

“Bravehearts has never been just about me,” she said.

“It’s always been a team effort and my election would give that team more power because I can accomplish so much more for children as a Senator.

“Nothing will ever stop me fighting this battle and I would say to Queenslanders that if you care about our future, you need to care about our kids and if you care about our kids, there’s only one way to vote in the Senate this year.”


Justice: “I’m calling for mandatory life sentences for repeat child sex offenders. They are a walking time bomb and it’s a breach of children’s human rights that they are walking the streets. We’re so soft on crime in Australia.”

Dying with Dignity: “I support voluntary assisted dying to allow terminally ill Australians to legally end their own lives. Why should we deny people who have little to no quality of life the right to die with dignity?”

Cyber Safety:“Every child should have to verify their name and age before opening a social media account. This may require the development of a verification card system but the issue is concerning enough to require such measures.”

Indigenous:“I will work with Indigenous leaders to break the silence when it comes to the plight of our indigenous children. They are more vulnerable than any other group in the country and we have failed them consistently. If you live in certain indigenous communities, you’ve got next to no chance of getting through your childhood without being sexually assaulted. I’ve got a big heart, but I’ve also got a big voice and I’m not afraid to use it all the way to Canberra.”

Jobs:“If elected I would push for a bigger investment and reduced red tape in the small business sector. While big business is focused on automation and cutting the bottom line, small businesses represent the mums and dads keeping the country alive.”

Immigration: “I want to stop the boats. I support offshore processing of refugees because I believe all people coming to Australian should do so safely. We need to remain strict on border protection because I don’t want to see any more drownings at sea and that will happen if unscrupulous people believe we have weak processes.”

Population Growth: “We need to protect Australia’s clean, green image by taking a measured approach to population growth. Supporters of a ‘Big Australia’ are focused on the fiscal need for more people to be paying taxes but we need to consider our natural resources and quality of life.”

The Banks: “I am outraged that the banking sector has seemingly escaped without criminal charges for the disgraceful acts revealed during the Royal Commission. The tragedy and devastation the banks’ actions caused to so many families are extraordinary, but they were able to walk away from it. However, what do you expect given the close ties between politicians and the financial sector?”

The Environment:“The Federal Government has mismanaged the energy sector. Renewables is the way to go but the manner that the Government has handled it has pushed prices through the roof. We need to start looking beyond soundbites.”

Koalas:“Australia’s Koala population is in steep decline.  They are our national treasure and they need to be protected by being entered onto the Endangered species list.”

Education: “The children who need the most help should be getting the most funding when it comes to schooling. Top quality education should be accessible to every child and I’m concerned that our system doesn’t always reflect that and it’s widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.”

NDIS: “Along with children and the elderly, people with disabilities are the most vulnerable members of our community and I support any scheme that provides them with the funding and resources they and their families need to improve their quality of life.”

The Elderly:“Like most Australians my heart breaks for the plight of many of our older Australians in nursing homes but also at the hands of their own families.  With both my parents still with us (92 and 88) this is another passion of mine.  Our elderly need a strong voice to improve their lives, safety and wellbeing.”

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For all media enquiries please contact Jacqueline Bojanowski from Ruby Communications on (07) 55323808 or 0424 360 986 or email


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