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Madeleine West

Madeleine West

Child Safety Advisor, Victims Advocate, Media Leadand Expert Speaker

Hello!

I’m Madeleine, an actress, author, and advocate who strives to make significant contributions to protecting our most vulnerable, precious citizens and our children, now and in the future.

My childhood in beautiful Woodend, Victoria, was challenging. Yet, though fractured by abuse and peppered by economic privation, I have maintained strong ties to where I come from and have fought hard to forge healthy relationships with my extended family. Attending 9 different secondary schools, I learned self-sufficiency, independence and adaptability, a formidable work ethic, and determination to achieve my ambitions regardless of the obstacles. I left home very young, finished my education independently, and managed to be accepted into law school. Battling on despite enormous odds proved the transformative power of working hard and dreaming harder, demonstrating that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. The law represented the foundation of justice and liberty, though the fullness of time has shown me that creating a better world is not restricted to the courtroom; it’s how you live your life every day. Despite my enduring passion for pursuing human rights, my first love has always been performing. After 35 years on stage and screen with an impressive filmography, I am perhaps best known for the 60-plus television roles I have performed.

My big break came in 1999 when cast as Dee Bliss in the long-running Australian soap opera Neighbours. The character quickly made me a household name, and I remained with the show until 2003, returning in 2017-2020. During my time, Dee was involved in some of the show's most memorable storylines, including a dramatic wedding day car accident that led to Dee's presumed death. This role earned me several nominations, including a Logie Award nomination for Most Popular New Female Talent. It allowed me to write and direct episodes, including those where I played both Dee and her identical twin, Andrea! I have shot leading roles in three films in the last two years, ‘You, me and the Penguins’ and ‘Nutfarm’, and Renny Harlans anticipated action blockbuster ‘Deep Water’ coming to cinemas late this year. Other highlights include The Condemned, The Starter Wife, Hercules, high-class escort Mel on Satisfaction, Dimity on House Husbands, Danielle McGuire in Underbelly (for which I won an AFI) and later Fat Tony & Co, Erica, Australia’s first out-and-proud-gay-daytime TV host on The Wrong Girl, and footy club President in killer heels Kath Rickards in Playing for Keeps.

I am also an avid environmentalist, working as a rainforest regenerator with ReForest Now. I’ve participated in numerous mass plantings here in Australia, striving to regenerate the Big Scrub, once Australia’s most significant rainforest ecosystem, and now in Indonesia, recreating Orangutan sanctuaries. My experiences being out of home so young have seen me work frequently in the homeless sector as a qualified homelessness facilitator and advocate for asylum seeker rights as a principal ambassador for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. I’ve had the honour of writing editorials on the experiences of those seeking asylum in Australia and have chronicled the cultural struggles women face here, in Morocco and Africa. I’m an avid hiker, meditator, wannabe surfer, chaser of waterfalls, and meanderer on bicycles. I’m happiest in the kitchen cooking and baking, and some of my most contented moments come when I paint, sketch, and teach drama to our next generation of performers. Outside of my acting career, I am a passionate advocate. I have been actively involved in raising awareness about exploitation, domestic violence, environmental conservation, and children's rights. I raise awareness around the prevention of child exploitation and trafficking as an advisor to IFYS and PROJECT PARADIGM while helping victims achieve justice through Warriors Advocacy.

I have advised the Senate and numerous parliamentary committees, including the Leader of the Coalition, Peter Dutton, on law enforcement capabilities in this sector. I created a model for a sex offenders registry, which became the framework of the Liberal Party’s proposed National Disclosure Scheme. Alongside Grace Tame, I’m lobbying to close the loophole that allows paedophiles to seclude their superannuation for Victims' Compensation Claims. My advocacy work is deeply personal, having experienced heinous sexual abuse as a small child. I know how insidiously these experiences in formative years can infiltrate and wreak havoc upon every aspect of your life. I managed to reclaim my history and achieve justice, working alongside Victoria police and the AFP for many years to build a solid case against the predator who abused me, going as far as wearing a police wire and confronting him to record evidence critical to his conviction. In December 2023, that monster was jailed for 15 years.

Across years of research, working with fellow victims and trauma therapy, I’ve come to understand intimately where this crime finds its genesis, how it plays out, how grooming occurs, and the red flags to look for. I’m proud to call myself a predation specialist, albeit an area of expertise I wish was no longer necessary. Creating the podcast series PREDATORY alongside lauded former detective inspector Gary Jubelin, I learned that the most beloved of modern-day conveniences, the internet, IS a hunting ground where predators lurk precisely because it encourages anonymity and lawlessness and offers access to children.

And so began my journey with Safe on Social, born of a determination to use my experience, expertise, and platform to educate, support and empower others to keep kids safe. I have now spoken to thousands of students, parents, and teachers at schools across Australia and have actively protected children experiencing grooming and online abuse. It brings me enormous satisfaction and hope to see this work's real impact, affirming the legacy I want to leave: ensuring no other child need ever experience the horror that I did.

Amid this mix, I am also an author and podcaster. I published my first book, Six Under Eight, in 2016, which offers a humorous and candid look at parenting six children. This was followed by my children's series Lily D V.A.P, and I regularly contribute to magazines and newspapers on topics ranging from parenting to social justice. I have helmed two No.1 podcasts, Restart for Mamamia and Predatory for Newscorp, alongside Managers, Invisible Heroes, and soon-to-drop Humble Warriors. But all of my work is informed by my most important role: Mum to my 6 beautiful children. You read right, SIX! Being a halftime single mum was never on my dance card, but they are my Magnum Opus, my world. I want to leave a better world for them, and as they say, if you want to get something done, ask a busy person! 

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