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Cardinal George Pell. A floncie Roman high priest hiding in Rome

“ABC presenter Paul Kennedy co-authored a book, Hell on the Way to Heaven, with Chrissie Foster in 2010.

He described Mr Foster as a “giant” and a “hero to many”.

He said without Mr Foster’s advocacy, the royal commission would not have taken place.

Last year, the Fosters helped other survivors get to Rome to watch Cardinal Pell give evidence to the royal commission.

“They just wouldn’t let the injustice of how survivors were treated stand,” he said.

“They pursued it and they brought about the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry, and from that the royal commission followed.

“Their personal grief was immense, still is, immense, and now even more so.””

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Anthony Foster, long-time advocate for child sex abuse victims, dies aged 64

27 May 2017

Anthony Foster stands with his wife Christine in Melbourne.
Anthony Foster, who dedicated his life to seeking justice for victims of child sex abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church after two of his daughters were repeatedly raped by a priest, has died in a Melbourne hospital, aged 64.

In a two decade-long quest to hold the Catholic Church accountable for crimes against children, Mr Foster and his wife Chrissie told the harrowing story of their family’s treatment at the hands of the church to the media and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

The couple’s daughters Emma and Katie were raped by Melbourne paedophile priest Father Kevin O’Donnell when they were in primary school in the 1980s.

Emma suffered from eating disorders, drug addiction and self harm. In 2008 she overdosed on medication and died at the age of 26.

Katie became a binge drinker as she reached adulthood and was hit by a drunk driver in 1999. She was left physically and mentally disabled, requiring 24-hour care.

Emma Aimee Chrissie Katie and Anthony Foster

Mr Foster hit his head in a fall last week and did not regain consciousness.

Last night, his family switched off his life support.

Mr and Mrs Foster, who also have another daughter, became Adults Surviving Child Abuse ambassadors as a result of their ordeal.

In 1996, the family was among the first to go through the Church’s Melbourne Response, designed by the then-Archbishop George Pell.

The Fosters were offered $50,000 along with a warning that if they took it to court, the church would strenuously defend itself.

They decided to fight it anyway and after nearly 10 years, they settled for $750,000.

‘Brave and gracious’

Lawyer Dr Vivian Waller, who has worked exclusively as an institutional abuse lawyer for more than 20 years, praised Mr Foster as a “very loving, very gracious” man.

“Anthony is a person of great personal integrity and he’s the light and warmth and the compassion in any room,” she said.

“Anthony Foster, for me anyway, stands for everything that the church is not.”

Dr Waller said it was a great testament that Anthony and Chrissie Foster were able to provide “such gracious and generous support” to other survivors of sex abuse.

“It is a tragedy that has happened to many families and instead of being bitter or resentful, Anthony is a man who has dedicated his life to assisting other people.

She said it was a tragedy that the Foster family’s suffering could have been avoided if the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne had responded to complaints about Father Kevin O’Donnell in 1958.

“So nearly 40 years before Anthony’s girls went to that school, the church knew that Father Kevin O’Donnell was a danger to children.

“Anthony and Chrissie Foster have been the most careful and loving parents … they walked their children to and from school and they had absolutely no way of imagining that they greatest risk to their girls was installed in the presbytery next to their primary school.”

Anthony and Chrissie Foster's daughters were repeatedly raped in primary school by their parish priest in suburban Melbourne.

ABC presenter Paul Kennedy co-authored a book, Hell on the Way to Heaven, with Chrissie Foster in 2010.

He described Mr Foster as a “giant” and a “hero to many”.

He said without Mr Foster’s advocacy, the royal commission would not have taken place.

Last year, the Fosters helped other survivors get to Rome to watch Cardinal Pell give evidence to the royal commission.

“They just wouldn’t let the injustice of how survivors were treated stand,” he said.

“They pursued it and they brought about the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry, and from that the royal commission followed.

“Their personal grief was immense, still is, immense, and now even more so.”