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Rosie Batty

'Together we will give victims a voice and demand our leaders act'

Rosie Batty
Video: 10 minutes 52 seconds

The 2015 Australian of the Year talks about grief and searching for recognition of, and action on, domestic violence.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this video, please phone 1800RESPECT.

For more information about Rosie Batty's work, please visit the Luke Batty Foundation.

- Victims are not weak. Victims have strength. They're not in the position they're in because they're less of a person. In fact, they have enormous strength and resilience because they use it every day. I learned quite quickly in preparation of the inquiry into Luke's death and the criminal inquiry that there was only one person that was responsible and that was Greg and that I was a loving, caring, protecting mother, I could never, ever, ever perceive that was possible, that he would have planned and indeed done such a thing. And I think people need to understand that when you have a child, no one loves that child more than you, you would do anything and there are some things you could say, where you could point the blame and say, "If they'd have done this, that wouldn't have happened," but ultimately, it's a waste of... it's a waste of time, because everyone is doing the best that they think at the time. The training and understanding of family violence and the risks is really poor. You have got choices and I have been able to... channel my grief... In a way that I hope makes a difference in... In society. And we do not talk about grief. We do not talk about grief, we don't know what it looks like. They would expect you to be comatose in a shrouded room with the lights, never facing it public. I... don't know why I didn't choose that path, because it would have been incredibly easy. I think... at the time, you're so... used to fighting that you just know you've got to keep fighting and it would've been, I felt if I let myself sink into that abyss, I would have never come out of it. I still feel like that. Because... you know, you don't recover. And then people talk to you about grief and you know, people will share their grief and tragedy and they'll say, "You never get over it." And I think I have got a prison sentence. And sometimes it is too hard to keep going, but you do. I don't profess to be anything other than a vulnerable person that is still struggling with grief. It affects my judgement, it affects my ability to deal with pressure and stress and things like that, but I'm human. People don't always see that side because you're putting on a brave face for whatever message you're delivering or what you're talking about. It doesn't mean that other people don't see it or experience it or... understand that. I think it's interesting, isn't it. It's not uniquely Australian as we know. It is everywhere. And I think we're just very conditioned. We're very conditioned. Family violence was always something like a lot of family trauma. You keep quiet. In the past, media didn't even communicate the stories particularly and when they do, they don't do a very good job of it. So we are seeing definite changes and improvements, but it is a big question. Why have we not recognised before now, as a very lucky, privileged, progressive country, but we do have an underbelly. We've got to understand that this is... Something that we all play a part in as a community where we condemn violence of any kind and there is never an excuse. Ultimately violence is a choice and it is based on power and control.

[Archival news footage 14 February 2014 courtesy of Australian Broadcasting Corporation Library Sales]

- We switched?

- Yeah. I'll be ready in one sec.

- He was a little boy in a growing body... That felt pain and sadness and fear for his mom. And he always believed he would be safe with his dad. And he would have trusted Greg. I'm here right now because I know you have a job to do and I want to tell everybody that family violence happens to everybody no matter how nice your house is, how... intelligent you are. It happens to anyone and everyone. And this has been an 11-year battle.

- Well, I think that that certainly has been what has really astonished people and caught their attention and without any doubt at all, that's what really helped raise the awareness of family violence and gave me an opportunity even though I didn't... realise what is was at the time to be able to be heard and make some... shift in change. And you know, when I went out to the media, it really was in defiance. That my friends were actually going to go out and tell the media could they please leave because in respect our privacy, et cetera, because that's what you do in the movies and that's what we think you're supposed to do. And I don't know why, I know that I was... It's hard to describe the condition you're in when something like this happens because you are conscious, but... but you seem to come in and out of some kind of awareness thing. You're not of yourself, really. I just heard them talking and I thought, "If anyone's going to tell them to go away, "it's going to be me." I have no idea why I would think that or even feel that strongly quite frankly, but I did. So I just went out with the intention of asking them out of respect to go. And how it... changed to be... me talking... was something I hadn't planned. And I had certainly no idea or script of what I was going to say. And I was... have constantly been surprised since that people have... been so amazed at that particular thing that I did. I also, I don't like to remain bitter or angry and... say hurtful, horrible things, because I felt it's just lowers you to... it lowers you and you need to rise above and be that better person, so I think, you know, I was... it's astonished people too that I didn't say anything... hateful about Greg. I just chose to speak how I... carefully I guess about... not speaking in a disrespectful way about him even though I was entitled to do and everyone would have expected me to do that, but ultimately we all just do the best we can and it's situations like that, you know, you shouldn't be judged cause it's really that you wouldn't want anyone to find themselves in that situation of having to deal with such a traumatic event. Obviously now that I'm considered a key spokesperson in this area, I will now have a, I'm recognised wherever I go it seems. I know that a lot of people have their opinion and you can't, not everyone will understand and not everyone will like what you've done, but I have to say I... I get very, very touched when children make contact with the foundation and want to do a project on me and share some insights and I've just found that's incredibly... moving actually.

I've not had a portrait photograph taken like that, it's not like a family snapshot type. It shows me I think in a strong manner. I think it reflect me in a way that I haven't seen before. Nikki's a warm, lovely person and think that she's an incredible photographer to do that. The portrait captures some part of me that lets you realise that... there's a sadness that probably will never go away, but through that sadness there's an awful lot of good things. I think I feel pleased to think that... I may be able to get people to think differently about women or children or anybody experiencing violence. I hope that I've been able to perhaps show some feelings around grief that also people who have loss and struggle and suffer with tragedy that there isn't a particular way of handling something. We just do the best we can and it's not something you just get over and get on with and we really need to talk about grief and our own fears and stop judging people. If I'm able to give strength to some people, which it seems that I do, well that's great, because it's not an easy word and no one would ever say it is, but if people get strength from seeing my strength, I think that's an amazing thing I can give back. Give people hope, give people strength, help them to understand that they're not alone and that there are many, many other people feeling and experiencing very, very difficult and challenging things.

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