Award-winning Seven News presenter, Kay McGrath, is a woman of strength, success, and vision. Alongside her illustrious career in television, Kay has worked tirelessly on other endeavours to make a difference in the wider Queensland community. Amongst Kay’s most notable achievements and contributions to society is her role as co-founder and ambassador for the organisation PACT, Protect All Children Today.
Kay helped establish PACT in 1984 after covering a high-profile sexual assault involving a four-year-old plaintiff. This stoked the fire in Kay, who was determined to take action to shed light on the issue and reduce trauma for children exposed to the Queensland Criminal Justice System. Hence, PACT was born.
“I was 28 years old, single, energetic and idealistic when I was approached by two committed police officers working in the area of child protection. I had an understanding of the privilege attached to being in front of the camera and presenting 6 o’clock news, so to use that profile to help raise awareness about child protection was a ‘no brainer’,” Kay explains. “I also had the time and the desire to work with good people on a truly important project.”
“In the 80’s child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, was still buried deep,” Kay elaborates. “It was difficult convincing news editors to cover the topic, and there was limited understanding in the community about the extent and effect of the crime. Thank goodness we’ve woken up.”
Di Farmer, Minister for Child Safety, Youth, and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. praised Kay’s work. “Kay McGrath has been a tireless leader and champion in the fight to end domestic and family violence,” says Di Farmer, “She is constantly looking at what more can be done, and inspiring those around her to do more than what they thought possible.”
PACT offers support to children and families involved in legal cases. “PACT Child Witness Support volunteers work hard to ease the fear and trauma attached to the legal process. They meet with the children and their families, establish a rapport and talk them through what lies ahead. These relationships can last for many months, often even years,” says Kay. “Children are put at ease in specially furnished safe and secure ‘vulnerable witness suites’ before giving their evidence. This evidence is generally pre-recorded on video and then later played to the Jury at the trial. PACT also links children with other appropriate agencies like counselling and financial compensation.”
Despite the extraordinary positive impact of PACT so far, Kay knows there is more to be done. “The sad reality is children are being abused every minute of every day in Queensland and in 2018 there still aren’t enough services to help heal them and their non-offending families.”
“Kay’s commitment to keeping women and children safe is absolute, making her a marvellous community ambassador. There are Queenslanders living safe today because of her wonderful example,” Di says. “I would like to thank Kay for all she has done, and all that she continues to do, to keep these issues at the top of the public agenda.” Kay is a worthy recipient of the Queensland Child Protection Week ‘Media and Communications’ award which she will be presented with on Thursday, 30 August at Parliament House.