Leneen Forde AC
In 1998, Leneen Forde AC was appointed to Chair the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions. The Commission of Inquiry has become known simply as the Forde Inquiry.
In handing down her report in May 1999, Ms Forde said, ‘To understand and learn from the past, we must all accept responsibility for children, our most valuable and vulnerable asset. Let us resolve to ensure that systems and policies leave no room for abuse, and create a framework for building a better future’.
The Forde Foundation was established as a result of the Forde Inquiry and Ms Forde became the founding Chair of its Board of Advice. She held the position from 2000 to 2007 before accepting her current role as Patron of The Forde Foundation.
Before the Forde Inquiry, Ms Forde had already had a distinguished career.
Born Leneen Kavanagh in Ottawa, Canada, Ms Forde worked as a medical laboratory technician and studied part-time for a Bachelor of Arts before moving to Australia in 1954. Ms Forde worked in the Haematology Department of Royal Brisbane Hospital for two years prior to beginning full-time legal study following her husband's death in 1966. She graduated a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland in 1970 and began her career as a solicitor. From 1974 to 1992, she was a Partner of Cannan & Peterson in charge of probate and estates.
Ms Forde was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1993 and is a Dame of Grace in the Order of St John of Jerusalem. She was International President of Zonta from 1990 until 1992 and Queenslander of the Year in 1991.
From 1992 to 1997, Ms Forde was the Governor of Queensland. She was only the second woman to be appointed to the position of governor in Australia and the first to take on the role in Queensland.
She was Chancellor of Griffith University for fifteen years from 2000 to 2015.
Ms Forde continues to serve her community.
‘I have been impressed by the courage of those who came forward, often moved by the hardships they have endured, and saddened that such abuses were somehow permitted to take place. The accounts that I have heard and read have left a lasting impression and I will never forget them. For all those who came forward to tell their stories, and to all victims of abuse in institutions, I dedicate this report to you and hope that it will be a small step on the long road to healing and reparation.’
Foreword: Forde Inquiry Report