NEWS

Sexual Abuse Advocate Anthony Foster Will Receive A State Funeral

He started out fighting for his daughters. Then, he became a voice for countless victims.

29/05/2017 12:49 AM AEST | Updated 29/05/2017 12:50 AM AEST

The high-profile advocate for child sexual abuse victims, Anthony Foster will have a state funeral held in his honour.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the news in a statement on Sunday afternoon and paid tribute to a man who "quietly and profoundly changed Australian history".

"Anthony campaigned tirelessly for justice from the Catholic Church. He fought evil acts that were shamefully denied and covered up," 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."

Foster, became an unwavering voice for the victims of sexual abuse and their families after two of his own daughters were raped as children by Melbourne priest Kevin O'Donnell.

Emma and Katie were raped repeatedly by the disgraced priest while primary school students at Oakleigh's Sacred Heart primary school in the late 1980s.

The Fosters had taken the church to court over their daughters' abuse and after a decade-long battle finally received compensation.

Neither Emma and Katie were able to recover from the horror they suffered as children.

At the age of 26, Emma died by suicide.

Her sister Katie developed a drinking problem. Then in 1999 she was left severely disabled by a drunk driver which resulted in her needing 24-hour-care. In an interview with The Age's Good Weekend in 2010, Foster and his wife Christine said in spite of the brain damage she had suffered Katie still remembered the abuse.

Foster rose to national prominence after he publicly accused Cardinal George Pell of stalling the family's compensation claim against the Catholic Church when he was archbishop of Melbourne. Foster said Pell showed a "sociopathic lack of empathy" for the victims of abuse.

Last year the Fosters traveled to Rome with other abuse survivors and their families to watch Cardinal Pell give evidence to the Royal Commission. Every night Foster had appeared before the world's media with a photograph of Emma and Katie as little girls, telling reporters, "These are my girls. A Catholic priest was raping them when this photo was taken.

"This was my perfect family. We created that. The Catholic Church destroyed it."

The Australian public, high-profile figures as well as many of the charities and organisations the Fosters had worked with expressed their sadness over the news of his death, paying tribute to the man who tirelessly held the powerful to account.

The date for Anthony Foster's state funeral is yet to be announced.

More On This Topic