Afternoon Reception in Honour of Bravehearts
As Patron of Bravehearts, I am very pleased that it has been possible for Kaye and me to host this afternoon reception during the most important week in the Bravehearts calendar – Child Protection Week.
It is particularly pleasing that so many donors, volunteers and supporters have been able to join Bravehearts Board members, staff, and Founder, Hetty Johnston AM, to celebrate the achievements of this remarkable Queensland organisation since it was established just over two decades ago.
At the time when those first steps were taken and the first White Balloon Day was launched, I was a Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland and very much aware of the historical struggle to protect Queensland children.
In the nineteenth century, children had few rights and little protection – those who were poor or abandoned could be sent to orphanages and hired out to work from the age of ten.
It wasn’t until 1896 that ill-treating or neglecting a child even became an offence, and it was to be a further century before my predecessor, Major General Peter ArnisonAC, gave Royal Assent to the Child Protection Act in 1999.
Amendments over the intervening eighteen years – and I know many in this room will be closing following the progress of the Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill 2017 currently before Parliament – have taken us closer to a tertiary system which truly protects children, and which emphasises the vital role of early intervention.
As we know, in this complexly evolving area, the law and lawmakers can struggle to keep pace with rapid change. (The term ‘cyber safety’ did not even exist in 1999.)
That progress has been made – at all ends of the child protection spectrum – is due in no small part to the women and men of Bravehearts.
Their passion has produced greater community awareness and their tenacious lobbying and focussed research has produced decisive action, legislative and otherwise – and as I mentioned, not just at the tertiary end, but across so many aspects of child protection, including early intervention, the provision of evidence-based therapeutic responses, sentencing and the refining of criminal offences, cyber safety, and, centrally, through the prevention of child sexual assault, guided by your ‘3 Piers’: Educate, Empower and Protect.
Like so many Queenslanders, Kaye and I are highly appreciative of the work that you do, and it is an honour to support you as your Patron and Governor.
Thank you again for joining us this afternoon. We wish you every success as you continue your mission to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.