She’s the Australian founder of not-for-profit organisation Bravehearts and one of the most incredibly dedicated and hard working Gold Coasters around. We sat down for a chat with Hetty Johnston AM about the protection of Australian children from child sexual assault and how we can contribute to White Balloon Day this Friday 11th September.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
My parents have been living on the Gold Coast forever and we’ve had the Bravehearts office on the Gold Coast for 12 years now. The Gold Coast City Council donated the land for our Bravehearts office and the support from our community has been amazing, with local construction companies building our office and donating everything down to the lightbulbs and grass.
What do you love most about living here?
I love the lifestyle on the Gold Coast, everything from the people to the beaches, hinterland and rainforests being just minutes away from each other. We are so lucky to live here in a place where everything is happening, we have great communities and breathtaking locations.
You’re the founder of Bravehearts, can you tell us about what the organisation does?
We work to protect the children of Australia from child sexual assault and exploitation, breaking the silence and advocating for the safety of our children. We’ve brought about countless law reforms across the country, we played a big role in bringing about the federal royal commission and we continue to fight every day for child protection – we have been approached by almost every state on their legislation. We also provide a range of services for all Australians, providing counselling and support for victims and their families, education and training for children and professionals, as well as completing in-depth research to support lobbying and legislative reform initiatives and promote the safety and protection of our children and communities through an evidence-based approach. We do all of this with a hugely talented team but a financially restricted organisation – everyone is working the job of two people. We certainly provide more bang for your buck here, the stuff we produce astounds me! We are all so dedicated to the issue and there is so much we’ve been able to accomplish, it’s so incredibly inspiring to work with a team that is 100% dedicated to what we do. We’re not a money-making machine, every dollar and cent that we receive is then spent back on protecting and educating children.
How did you get into this incredible work?
I founded Bravehearts in 1997 to start a conversation about child sexual assault and exploitation because when I began, the words ‘child sexual assault’ weren’t used in public. Our daughter was sexually assaulted as a child, moving me to change the way child sexual assault was not spoken about in the community. More so, we believed the silence and suppression perpetuated further harm to these children, being harmed is enough yet the isolation from the community was only worsening their trauma.
There’s actually no way I thought I’d be in this job, I was working in large corporate roles and politics (keeping parties honest) before this, then I quit everything I was involved in after my daughter came forward with her disclosure to start Bravehearts. It’s been my family’s life and something that we are all very proud of.
White Balloon Day Friday 11th September, can you tell us what it’s about?
This White Balloon Day we are encouraging the community to raise funds and awareness by wearing white and starting the conversation and this year is taking place as a 24-hour giving day, where the community can make donations to help Australian kids and every dollar is matched by generous sponsors. White Balloon Day is about breaking the silence on child sexual assault and that was the main call at the start, since then we’ve seen a lot more conversation generated. However, since the Royal Commission complacency has set in and that’s something we can’t afford with more than 1 in 5 Aussie children experiencing sexual assault or exploitation before their 18th birthday. That means 1 in 5 children in every classroom, daycare, basketball team, football team, so it’s something that we are all impacted by.
Raising awareness and funds is key, you can’t stop something unless you’re aware of it. From the political agenda, community and government we all need to be aware to help make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.
How has the current state of the world increased the risks for children?
The current situation is isolating victims with their perpetrators, as 80-90% of perpetrators are known and trusted by their victims and their families. It’s something that’s difficult to avoid as we isolate children from their schools and friends so they don’t have anyone to confide in, so we need to be particularly aware through these tough time. Children are being horrifically harmed and there’s no other way to stop it. Additionally, offenders are exploring other methods, which is why we’ve seen a massive explosion of online content of child sexual assault and exploitation. It breaks my heart and that’s why White Balloon Day is working so hard. Particularly in Victoria, people need to see everyone wearing white and advocating for our children to enact change. It’s a fight to help the children and parents, we have to say the things people don’t want to say and protect the best interests of our children.
Can you share some of the statistics about child abuse in Australia?
Over 1 in 5 children in Australia experience child sexual assault or abuse before their 18th birthday and despite all of the hard work and increasing awareness, the offenders are winning the battle because there are still not enough resources. Importantly, when 98% of children disclose their sexual assault or exploitation they don’t lie, so if a child discloses to you it can’t be dismissed and it needs to be taken seriously by everyone from families to judges and Governments. We can’t ignore them!
What can we do to support Bravehearts and White Balloon Day?
You can support us this White Balloon Day by simply wearing white to start a conversation, breaking the silence encircling child sexual assault and exploitation, and donating online at WhiteBalloonDay.org.au. You can even simply make it your work’s charity of choice, choose children. And don’t forget, this Friday on White Balloon Day all donations will be matched dollar for dollar by our corporate sponsors.
The work you do would be very emotionally charged, how do you switch off?
I haven’t found my off button yet, I recently found the pause button but have since seemed to have lost it. When you see the volume and intensity of this issue, it’s very difficult to step away. But when I’m at home, I’ll turn on some music and head straight into the kitchen to start cooking to switch off – good music, good friends and good food really help!
Tell us your personal favourites on the Coast:
Cafe for breakfast: Anchor Buoy
Coffee spot: Degani have great coffee
Restaurant for dinner: George’s Paragon but I’m normally at home cooking for dinner and I love heading to Arundel Tavern for a lunch
How does your weekend usually look: I have my mother living at home who’s 90 years old, so I spend as much time with her as I can! I spend most of the time cooking and mucking around in the kitchen with food from my veggie patch. I love hanging out with my friends and family, my husband and I are very social, so we always have a lot of people coming over. We really enjoy our home, family, animals – we have a few cows, three dogs and I love feeding the birds.
We come bearing baked goods news, which is of course the very best kind. It involves Burleigh Baker, speaking of the very best kind of things and the fact that they now have two Gold Coast venues, so you can eat double the amount of their exceptional baked goods.
As you’ve probably figured out, the newbie can be found on Bruce Avenue in Paradise Point. The outdoor seating area will give you plenty of warming sunshine or you can grab some goodies to go and wander across the road to the waterfront park. Burleigh Baker 2.0 looks pretty similar to the OG version except that the cabinet filled with cakes and sweet treats is bigger, and that is a-okay by us.
On offer are all the same things you can find down south and if you haven’t yet had the chance to visit, allow us to explain what you’ve been missing out on.
Burleigh Baker are magicians when it comes to sourdough, theirs is the best there is hands down and not only is it stocked in their own spaces, but in other venues all across the Coast.
The fermentation process is a minimum of 18 hours and there are MANY flavours of the sourdough loaf you’ll want to try. Our fave is the Olive Sourdough which is only available on Friday’s and Saturday’s and we will fight you for it. There’s also a Pumpkin Sourdough with pieces of roast pumpkin throughout, a Orchard Loaf with figs and dates in there (also amazing), the Burleigh Special which is the original version and a 100% Spelt Sourdough to name a few.
All of them, and yes we’ve tried every single one, is a taste sensation AND not only delicious, the extended fermentation process means it’s good for your gut health too. So guilt-free.
Not only loaves of sourdough though, the team also whip up semi-sourdough croissants (crispy on the outside and soft inside) which are heavenly, custard tarts unlike any you’ve ever tasted and yes, sweet treats too.
Said sweet treats are either made with sourdough or are gluten-free and they are all made with a very reduced amount of sugar. None of them have refined sugar, they’re all made with varieties like coconut and yep, they’re still absolutely incredible. Better in fact, than those laden with sugar.
We’re talking treats like Sticky Date puddings, Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies, Apple Tarts, all of the things.
Not only those though, you can also order warm things like the Burleigh Baker Breaky Bun with egg, bacon, cheese and smoked tomato relish, Free Range eggs cooked your way and a Herb and Cheese Omelette, soup of the day, sandwiches and rolls.
To drink, there is the very good Handsome Coffee, Kombucha, Chai, a variety of teas and orange juices too.
Burleigh Baker also do epic cakes to order, so if you need something special but absolutely cannot make it yourself, get the best in the biz to do it for you.
So it’s pretty much the best place ever. Get on up there to try it all for yourself. And yes, we mean all of it.
LOCATION: 6 Bruce Avenue, Paradise Point
Words and photos by Kirra Smith
The plant-based life is one that has gained huge momentum over the past little while with dedicated eateries popping up all over the place and many people adopting more of a green way of life.
The Gold Coast has joined in on the fun, becoming home to a few vegetarian venues that we the people have welcomed with open arms.
The most recent of which is Plant Based Café, found in Paradise Point on Grice Ave and next door to Cross and Feather, it opened late last year and it’s been quite the delight ever since.
Owners Airi Kanazawa and Ali Imz noticed a need for more plant-based spots on the northern end of the Coast and so, as many aspiring change-makers do, decided to change that right up.
Now plant-based eater or not, you’re going to want to sample the absolutely stunning eats on offer here. Created by both Airi, Ali and former Masterchef contestant Christina Laker heading up the kitchen, every single dish is a delight to behold and yes, packed with flavour too.
For breakfast there are dishes like Nutella Pancakes with house-made Nutella poured over three layers of fluffy, vanilla pancakes and finished with organic coconut ice cream, blueberry compote, fresh seasonal fruits and peanuts and that is one dish you’re going to remember for a long time.
If you’re more of a savoury fan, the Zucchini and Corn Fritter Stack is next-level with a stack of low-fat, baked fritters served with tomato relish, smashed avocado and a lightly-dressed petite salad. So tasty and perfectly presented too.
There’s also a Buddha Bowl, Matcha Tea Mochi Pancakes and a Dukkha Mushroom Medley to name a few more delicious dishes.
For lunch, there are burgers, tacos, pasta and Spiced Buffalo Cauliflower Wings which are one of our favourite things ever. The Chi-kin Burger is the go with a grilled chi-kin patty, housemade slaw, pickled gherkin and melted cheddar. All day please.
To drink there are smoothies of the Snickers Protein, Chocolate Mint and Blueberry Chia varieties plus an organic blend of coffee from Byron Bay Coffee Company, plus of course, cold pressed juice and kombucha.
The team are also aiming for a waste-free business, recycling everything daily and taking leftover food scraps to an animal shelter nearby. So that’s really great.
Do yourself a favour and get into Plant Based Café ASAP to taste some exceptional eats in a high vibe space that is doing good for not only the Gold Coast but the world.
LOCATION: 1/2 Grice Ave, Paradise Point
HOURS: Daily from 6am to 3pm
Words and photos by Kirra Smith
We’re back with more foodie news from the north and it seems like Paradise Point is throwing their hat in the ring for the coveted title of the Coast’s most exciting up and coming foodie mecca.
A few short weeks ago we reported on the sweet new Plant Based Cafe and here we are again to discuss The Grazing Plate, a newbie that opened just last week slinging something a little bit different.
Found on Bruce Ave, The Grazing Plate is the work of Paula and Andrew Statham who are quite the well seasoned travellers and wanted to bring something they are passionate about to the people of Paradise Point. Which is of course, wholesome eats, a welcoming but sophisticated venue and a way of dining we don’t often see in the land of Oz.
Now the vibe of the newbie is casual, decked out with both indoor and outdoor seating plus a big section in the back for functions (wedding receptions and the like), there’s pops of greenery everywhere and some of the prettiest tiled flooring we’ve seen. It’s a delight.
At the moment, the team are focusing on their breakfast menu but lunch will be rolled out later in the week and dinner in about a months’ time.
As you might have guessed, the menu is based around a grazing plate style of eating and you can do this as a solo act or share if you’re visiting with your pals.
Of course, all your favourite dishes are available too like fruit and cereal bowls, housemade pancakes and a soon-to-be-released potato rosti selection that we already love the sound of very much.
Let’s discuss the grazing plate option though and basically you start with a free-range egg selection (two for two people etc.) and then it’s a choose your own adventure type situation.
With add ons like grilled haloumi, gourmet pork sausages, sirloin beef, Indonesian fried rice, avocado and housemade baked beans (to name a few) it’s pretty much the breakfast creation of your dreams.
Basically it’s just a way to share all the things but at breakfast time. Lovely.
When the lunch trade starts, it will be exactly the same deal so how good is that.
To drink, there is The Cat’s Pajamas coffee along with fresh juices and soon, cocktails and lunch time friendly beverages.
Soon there’ll also be a Saturday grazing brunch and a Sunday roast grazing brunch and it’s all about eating a little bit of everything, which we’re obviously all about.
The Grazing Plate offer catering too and soon they’ll be holding cooking classes if you’re keen to learn a thing or two yourself.
See all the fun things are happening at Paradise Point.
Pop up there and check it out for yourself.
LOCATION: 3/8 Bruce Ave, Paradise Point
HOURS: From 6.30am daily
Words and photos by Kirra Smith