Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (By leave) — I too would like to add my voice to the thousands of people expressing sorrow for the death of and praise for the life of child protection advocate Anthony Foster. History will show that both he and his wife, Chrissie, made one of the most outstanding contributions to child protection in Australia under probably the most difficult circumstances of all. Many people deal with their grief in a private and personal way and I am sure Anthony Foster did that as well, but by taking his grief into the public arena and refusing to accept the lies and deceit of the Catholic Church he became a modern martyr for child protection everywhere.
I first heard of the Fosters in 2000 when Four Corners broadcast a program about a clash between the Catholic Church and Australia’s adult industry. My partner, Robbie Swan, and I had published a book called Hypocrites, which listed all of the paedophile priests who had been charged to that point. Archbishop Pell was interviewed alongside us. After the show, Chrissie Foster rang our office to tell us how Pell had treated them when they had approached him about their two daughters, Emma and Katie, being raped by Father Kevin O’Donnell. I will not forget her words. She said, ‘He stood up from his big leather chair and glared at us and told us to get out, that O’Donnell was a nice man’. She said, ‘At that moment, 20 years of faith just evaporated from my life’.
I am very pleased that the Premier has offered a state funeral for Anthony Foster. He and Chrissie personally supported hundreds of families and indirectly helped thousands. Without their tireless work and advocacy we would not have had a royal commission, victims would not have had the courage to come forward and families would have continued to suffer in silence — and they did this while mourning the loss of their two daughters. Now the state needs to make Pell and the church truly accountable for the way they have crushed the lives of the Foster family and many others like them.
I mourn the loss of Anthony Foster, but I also celebrate and stand in awe of his bravery and dignity. My heart goes out to Chrissie and daughters Aimee and Katie. Rest in peace, Anthony Foster.
The PRESIDENT — Order! It has been suggested that, given that this matter has come before the chamber, perhaps a minute’s silence might be appropriate on this occasion. I ask members to stand in their places.
Honourable members stood in their places.