THE Blue Knot Foundation has paid tribute to Anthony Foster – who championed the Newcastle Herald’s campaign for a child abuse royal commission – on the eve of his state funeral in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The head of the foundation for child abuse survivors, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said Mr Foster’s sudden death on May 27, aged 64, had devastated all who came to know him and wife Chrissie, as “steadfast and forthright champions for justice, truth and integrity”.
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“Not often in life do you meet human beings who truly inspire,” Dr Kezelman said on Sunday.
“Anthony Foster was one such person.”
Mr and Mrs Foster first challenged the Catholic Church in the 1990s after the devastating discovery that two of their three daughters, Emma and Katie, had been sexually assaulted by a notorious Catholic priest when they were aged 5 and 6.
Emma committed suicide and Katie was left with profound disabilities after she was hit by a car while binge drinking.
“Chrissie and Anthony did not choose to be champions for survivors,” Dr Kezelman said.
“The criminal acts of child sexual abuse which decimated their family led them down a path.
“Instead of becoming bitter and hateful, they have always been dignified and honest.
“Despite their own enormous losses, their humanity and morality have been a beacon for so many others. Anthony did not shy away from any task.
“His advocacy was a catalyst for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, a forum which has spearheaded change for victims.
“He tackled bastions of power and hierarchy with honour and balance, yet with a focused determination which inspired so many others to rise up alongside him and Chrissie.
“Anthony gave so much of himself.
“The cost has been enormous but his legacy will mean a better world, a more just world, a world where truth prevails over power, and where children are safer.”
In announcing that his offer of a state funeral had been accepted by the family, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said Mr Foster would be remembered as a man who "quietly and profoundly changed Australian history", after campaigning for justice from the Catholic Church.
"He fought evil acts that were shamefully denied and covered up," Mr Andrews said.
"He and Chrissie lost so much, but never their dignity, grace and strength.
“Anthony won't be forgotten, and the fight for justice goes on."