Thursday, 14th January 2016 at 11:31 am
One of Australia’s best known child protection advocates, Hetty Johnston AM, has announced she will step down as CEO of the organisation she founded to become the chair of its board.
But in an unusual set of circumstances, she will be replaced by the current chairman of Bravehearts, meaning the pair will effectively trade places.
Johnston, who founded Bravehearts in 1997, said she wanted to step away from the day-to-day operations of the organisation to focus on larger advocacy goals.
“I feel so lucky to be in a position where I can step back yet continue to have a role in leading Bravehearts toward achieving its vision to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child by 2020,” Johnston said.
“Part of my responsibilities will include driving special projects, such as our independent inquiry into the Family Court called Abbey’s Project, and some other exciting initiatives that will bring us closer to our 2020 vision.
“It will also free up time for me to meet with key stakeholders and government, all [of whom] play a pivotal role in helping Bravehearts to support kids and families in communities right across the country.”
The 2015 Queensland Australian of the Year has also publicly signalled her intention to run for mayor of the Queensland city of Logan, before withdrawing to spend time with her family.
Johnston will be replaced by, and replace, current Bravehearts chair, Angelo Venardos.
The former policeman and police prosecutor has practiced law for the past 25 years, most recently as a Director at Ferguson Cannon Lawyers in Brisbane.
He was also corporate counsel at CareFlight Group Queensland and was a senior lawyer for ASIC for seven years from 1998 to 2005.
“It’s an immense privilege to be appointed to this role and I look forward to contributing to the stellar work this powerhouse organisation does to protect kids in communities right around Australia,” Venardos said.
“One thing that struck me about Bravehearts is its people and that level of commitment and talent is incredibly inspiring. There are some fantastic opportunities on the horizon and Bravehearts is well positioned to cement its place as the leading child protection organisation in the country.
“I want to also acknowledge outgoing chief executive Hetty Johnston whose courage, vision and guidance will continue here at Bravehearts as chair of the organisation and to the board who supported and encouraged my decision.”
Johnston said Venardos would bring a “fresh dynamic” to the position, using his business background to create new opportunities and corporate partnerships.
“Angelo comes to the position with exceptional credentials following years as a respected legal professional and he has a strong sense of civil justice and leadership,” she said.
“Equally, he has a passion for child protection and workplace culture and will make a wonderful addition to the Bravehearts team, steering the ship to new frontiers.
“We are both focussed on the mission and vision of Bravehearts and we look forward to working together to ensure 2016 is the beginning of a fresh, new and exciting phase in the life of Bravehearts, the work we do and how we do it.”
Johnston will receive a salary to stay on as chair of Bravehearts while Venardos has left his job at Ferguson Cannon Lawyers to take on the full-time position of CEO.