ROSIE Batty’s former husband Greg Anderson made a promise that he may not outlive her, but he could make her suffer.
She had fought tirelessly in the courts to shield herself and her 11-year-old son Luke from the torturous power and control cycle inflicted by her estranged partner. Rosie thought she had done enough, when after enduring a history of violence, was granted an intervention order that denied him contact.
Then on February 12, 2014, the unthinkable occurred. Luke was cornered by his father at the cricket nets in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, hit in the head and stabbed to death. It was the ultimate act of revenge by a man who had lost control.
Greg Anderson was shot after resisting arrest and died in hospital.
Every day since losing the one precious little boy she loved, Rosie has made it her mission to make Luke’s life matter and cultural change his legacy. And she is not giving up. Ever.
Her campaign to end violence against women and children is a call to action for men and women to unite and challenge the status quo. To be bold and brave enough to say sexism, gender inequity and normalising the harmful and often innocuous behaviours that feed into acts of violence end now. And we have to do it together.
Rosie Batty was named 2015 Australian of the Year and in a coup for the Mid North Coast, was the guest speaker at the Hastings Business Women’s Network International Women’s Day breakfast in Port Macquarie co-hosted with Leslie Williams MP.
Before a record-breaking crowd of 370, Rosie spoke boldly about making that change happen.
“As women we should be enraged. As women we should collectively understand this is affecting so many of the people that we may know or come into contact with on a daily basis in our communities,” Rosie said.
“It’s been three years since Luke was murdered. The horrific way that Luke died should never have happened. But there were red flags, there were warnings.
“As a community and a society we minimise the risk – we don’t want to face it, we don’t want to acknowledge it and what we do constantly is blame the victim rather than make the perpetrator accountable.
“So how can we change as a society? By simply shifting the conversation. That question we think is so innocent and obvious and pertinent and relevant, but is also very critical and judgmental and ignorant – “why doesn’t she just leave?”
“When you choose to leave a violent relationship, you threaten the power and control dynamic. Because violence is a choice – it is always a choice. When a woman has had enough, or the violence is so extreme there is no other way out. Or she has over time worked on her self esteem and knows she deserves so much more … when you choose to leave and challenge that dynamic you are at the greatest risk of harm.”
Rosie said the shift in thinking is simple. Why is a woman is expected to leave a violent relationship, uproot her life and family so she can be safe? Why are we not asking questions of the perpetrator – why is he choosing to be violent?
You and I have an equal responsibility to be a part of a community to fix this issue. Because it’s always been there doesn’t mean there is a place for it to continue. It’s up to us.Rosie Batty
“The journey forward about being bold and being change is doing this together. We can’t do it separately. And how much more rewarding is that journey when men celebrate our achievements with us ... and recognise we are completely equal and contribute in different ways.
“Moving forward with family violence does start with a conversation.
“There is no greater community problem than family violence and it has to be acknowledged and we are all part of the solution and we all can do something. We can look at the way we talk to our children, the way we model respect to each other – because if we are not modelling it ourselves how on earth can we expect younger generations to do that.
“Not all disrespect ends with violence, but all violence starts with disrespect.”
Rosie said the momentum for change has started, but accountability in politics and our judicial system is critical.
“You and I have an equal responsibility to be a part of a community to fix this issue. Because it’s always been there doesn’t mean there is a place for it to continue. It’s up to us.
“We need to escalate this. We need to hold each other accountable when we hear inappropriate comments.
“What we need to understand is violence is on a spectrum and its starts from sexist put-down language. And if it is snuffed out at the very beginning it can’t go anywhere else.
“It means an awful lot for men to make other men accountable.”
For Rosie Batty’s full presentation, watch the video: