ACT News

Rosie Batty breaks down domestic abuse stereotypes with her bravery over son Luke's murder

Rosie Batty's Australian of the Year title would elevate the issue of domestic violence across the country - helping dispel the myth that it only happened in certain families, socio-economic groups or cultures, according to the ACT Domestic Violence Crisis Service.

Executive director Mirjana Wilson said Ms Batty was an inspirational Australian, whose loss of her 11-year-old son at the hands of his mentally unstable father, resonates with many other Australians.

"The outcome of her story is thankfully not something that happens all the time," Ms Wilson said.

"But her numerous attempts to seeks support from the system - be that police or courts – getting them to act on the protection orders, those experiences are common. That tragic outcome, thankfully, is rare."

Ms Wilson noted seven women had already been murdered at the hands of their partners this year - averaging one woman a week across Australia.

"These women share the same struggles around being believed and taken seriously and needing the system to coordinate around their issues."

Advertisement

In the weeks preceding Luke's murder, Ms Batty  was not informed there were five warrants out for his father, Greg Anderson, nor that his mental state had worsened severely.

She had always tried to respect Mr Anderson's role in his son's life and when he turned up to see Luke at cricket practice in February last year, Ms Batty agreed that the pair could play cricket together. Shortly after,  Mr Anderson turned on Luke with a cricket bat and knife.

Mr Anderson was shot by police during the attack and later died. 

Ms Wilson said she had personally been amazed by Ms Batty's courage in fronting the media in the immediate aftermath of her son's murder, to speak out not against Luke's father, but to plead for understanding of the pervasive and random nature of domestic violence.

"I want to tell everybody that family violence happens to everybody," Ms Batty said.

Ms Batty said at the time "No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are. It can happen to anyone, and everyone. This has been an 11-year battle. You do the best you can. You're a victim, and you're helpless. An intervention order doesn't stop anything like this from happening.

"No one loved Luke more than his father. No one loved Luke more than me - we both loved him.'

Ms Wilson said Ms Batty's openness and composure had enabled her to take a deeply tragic personal event and raise the consciousness of domestic violence with ordinary Australians.

"Those of us who have been working in the arena for a long time have been able to change laws and rules in this country but she has come from a raw and personal place and gotten people to listen.

"She has been able to manage her grief at the same time to advocate for others."

Ms Wilson said some women experiencing domestic abuse and living in fear may not feel as brave as Ms Batty.

But by explaining that domestic violence was not grouped into any family, cultural, or socio-economic category, Ms Batty was breaking down barriers, and could inspire a national conversation.

"She has reiterated that it can happen to anybody, that only by the grace of God is it not you."

Advertisement