They became leaders – genuine leaders. Countless victims and survivors looked to them with hope and appreciation. Many of us fellow victims’ advocates turned to them for guidance and support.
The Fosters led the way in demonstrating how effective advocacy should be undertaken. Some things can’t be taught. It’s simply a reflection of who you are as a person. In our community it’s referred to as being a mentch, a decent person. The Fosters defined what being a mentch is. And it is mainly because of this that they were so successful.
The other main reason for the Fosters’ advocacy successes is because their pain was visceral – it came from a place most have never been. Losing two daughters in such brutal circumstances at the hands of one of the most powerful global institutions, the Catholic Church – and then being bullied by the Church while in pursuit of justice and reform – would prevent most people from functioning.
Not only did Anthony and Chrissie continue to function, the impact that they’ve had in Australia (and beyond) has been revolutionary. They have, together with others, ensured a cultural shift in the way our society now addresses the issue of child sexual abuse. Indeed, many of the recent positive developments – culminating in the ground-breaking Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – may be attributed to some of the tireless work the Fosters have undertaken over many years at great personal cost.
On a personal level, Anthony and Chrissie have been my dear friends and colleagues. They have been my inspiration. They have helped guide me through their words and deeds. They both attended the Royal Commission public hearing into Yeshivah to support me, and I travelled to Rome to support them at the public hearing into the Catholic Church. We also met up in Australia and abroad. We discussed both our private and public lives. I felt closely connected. To me they were one of a kind. A unique couple, a unique team.
Anthony, your legacy will live on. We will continue to do your important work. I will continue to try to emulate you – both personally and professionally. Thank you for your ongoing support, feedback and love. I always cherished our times together.
Chrissie, I and many others are blessed to count you as a dear friend and colleague. We stand with you in this difficult time, and hope you take some comfort in Anthony’s (and your) legacy. As we say in our tradition to those mourning, I wish you and your family a long life.
As the ultimate tribute to Anthony, may we all do our bit for the sake of justice and for the safety of children.
And may Anthony’s dear soul rest in peace.