Australian of the Year 2015 – Rosie Batty and Domestic Violence

(Image Credit: Getty Images)

One hot afternoon in February 2014, in the pleasant Victorian township of Tyabb, south-east of Melbourne, an 11-year-old boy called Luke Batty was playing in the nets after cricket practice with his father, Greg Anderson. Without warning, Anderson swung the bat and dealt the child a colossal blow to the back of his head, then crouched over him where he lay, and attacked him with a knife. The police shot Anderson and he died in hospital the following morning.

Rosie Batty, the young boy’s mother, came out her front gate to address the media. Her thick fair hair was tangled, her face stripped raw. “I want to tell everybody,” she said to camera, in a low, clear voice with a Midlands accent, “that family violence happens to everybody. 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.”

It wasn’t so much what she said as her demeanour that stopped people in their tracks. There was something splendid about her, in her quiet devastation. Everyone who saw her was moved, and fascinated. People talked about her with a kind of awe.

From Helen Garner’s essay in The Monthly.

Rosie Batty’s situation is not unique.

In Australia, the victims of domestic violence are mostly women and children – though men are certainly not immune from the scourge. It is estimated that one woman is murdered each week by a current or former – almost always male – partner. Child victims are approximately half that number – although the parental breakdown here is closer to 50:50.

I must declare my particular interest in this topic. I have never been the victim of domestic violence myself. However, I knew Julie Ramage (she was the mother of one of the students at my daughter’s school) – whose total control-freak of a husband killed her and escaped conviction for murder (manslaughter, instead) on the then-available ground of provocation. And the family of that appalling “father” who tossed his 4-year-old daughter off the Westgate Bridge back in 2009 lived in the very nice fairly exclusive leafy inner-eastern Melbourne suburb immediately south of mine.

The motivations for killing children are varied, but if I may be allowed a simplistic dichotomy, when it’s a woman killing her children – generally before committing, or attempting to commit, suicide – it seems to be the desire not to abandon those children (I do relate to that: at one stage of my life when I was seriously contemplating suicide, I couldn’t abandon my daughter – so I would have to kill her first. Then I realised that I’d have to eliminate all the other people who cared about her, and then all those who cared about those people, and then . . . ). For men – particularly those men who do not kill their partner – revenge – the ultimate power play – seems to be the primary motive.

Congratulations, Rosie Batty, on becoming Australian of the Year. You were in stellar company, but you were and are the absolute standout choice. All strength to your arm, and I hope the Victorian Government is sensible enough to involve you closely with the upcoming Royal Commission into Domestic Violence. This is a horrific problem humanity has ignored for far too long.

I will leave the last words to Rosie Batty:

We sat there in silence. The dog slept on between us. She rested her forearms across her thighs and turned her grand, weary face up to me.

“Sometimes,” she said, “it gets so quiet. And I think, what’s missing?” Her voice weakened and trembled. “I know what’s missing. What’s missing is Luke. Was he ever here?”


335 thoughts on “Australian of the Year 2015 – Rosie Batty and Domestic Violence

  1. Janice
    Bernard Keane thinks she passed with flying colours. This piece is locked, but this is the part about Bishop.

    Arise, Dame Julie: Bishop displays her Sun King seal of approval

    Julie Bishop is openly positioning herself as Tony Abbott’s replacement as the Prime Minister’s judgement again fails him.

    While Tony Abbott was preparing to bestow a knighthood reserved for “pre-eminent Australians” to a wealthy Greek bigot living in the UK, another type of anointing was taking place in New York. As revealed in the Financial Review, on the weekend Rupert “all Muslims not guilty” Murdoch received Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister of his far-flung vassal state, Australia, and senior member of the client government he helped install there.

    The timing of the meeting, and its revelation by Fairfax, is exquisite — and entirely unsubtle: just when Abbott demonstrated his leadership is permanently hostage to a political mindset that deeply confuses even his strongest supporters, there’s Bishop getting the News Corp imprimatur on the same day as Fairfax slavishly devoted an article to her thoughts on why Australia should retain a military presence in Afghanistan (“nice place to send refugees, wouldn’t want to live there”) beyond the current withdrawal date. Bishop the statesperson, Bishop the anointed one, Bishop the heir apparent. At least, that’s how she’d like the rest of us, and particularly her parliamentary colleagues, to see her at the moment her leader’s failings are on such public display

  2. Bishop! Hard to see Tones going quietly.

    In another time, or another place, Tones would have Bishop’s future terminated “with extreme prejudice”.

    Every fascist dictatorship has its murderous dictator. Only the thin veil of law and the peculair institution we call democracy prevents what numerous places elsewhere condone as the natural state of politics, that being a ruthless survival of the fittest. Admittedly, this being a more civilised century, some despots resort to basic chicanery, like ballot rigging or fitting up a rival on sodomy charges.

    Here is a question to ponder. When the honchos pull Abbot’s fuse, will he go off?

    We will see.

  3. Aguirre,
    Simkin’s unfortunate timing reminds me of a mate of mine who began work in stockbroking on the morning of Black October the 1987 meltdown of shares. He was good enough to survive and prosper as he’s carved out a successful career in the almost thirty years since.
    However in Simkin’s case, it’s difficult to feel any sympathy for him.

  4. Leone,

    Oh dear, the abbott must be having nightmares! Just fancy his ‘loyal girl’ has been “received” and given the thumbs up by the wizened old mongrel who pulled his strings and had him dancing to “His Master’s Tunes” for five long years…..It aint fair and the bitchop deserves to have her lights punched out.

  5. So which is it, CanDo?

    The LNP has released its election costings, outlining the budget finances for its privatisation plan.

    The party said asset leases would pay down debt and help Queensland regain its Triple A credit rating.

    But Mr Seeney said there would be a strong demand to spend the money on infrastructure before Treasurer Tim Nicholls used it to pay debt.

  6. Prior to the 2013 election, I’m pretty certain it was Simkin who filed a report in which he claimed Abbott would act as a moderating force as PM against the hard-liners in his party. I thought it was a stupid claim at the time and, as it turns out based on recent events, the exact opposite has occurred, with Hockey and Dutton practically begging Abbott not to cut the Medicare rebate.

    I don’t think Simkin’s judgment can be trusted at all.

  7. dedalus wrote

    Theme song for 2016: The Who: Won’t get fooled again

    so here it is pay attention to the first 16 secs and draw the parallels.

    Theme song for 2016: The Who: Won’t get fooled again

  8. Aguirre,

    Maybe Mark Simpkin will get a rude awakening in his new job – I wish him as miserable a time as is possible and a big career setback as compensation for his gross stupidity.

  9. The MSM have been shoving Bananas at us relentlessly, telling us over and over again that she is ‘popular’. It sounds like high school – at my daughter’s school the’ mean girls’ (over-privileged botches from the posh families) always belong to the self-styled ‘popular’ group. No-one liked them, they didn’t really like one another all that much either, but they had to stick together and put on a show of popularity.

    So it is with Bananas. If she is ‘popular’ it’s only among Liberal MPs who would like to ditch Abbott. They have one eye on the future, future where Leader Bananas loses an election and gets thrown aside like an old shoe. She’s not popular, she is just being used by blokes with an agenda. I don’t think she is smart enough to see that, she’s too busy preening for the cameras.

    As for popular with voters – on what planet? Women don’t like her. The blatant display of wealth and privilege – the Armani outfits, the shies worth more per pair than a pensioner’s fortnightly income and the Kailis pearls, all paid for by the taxpayers, the flashy property developer boyfriend and all the rest of the act does not go down well with women struggling to pay the mortgage and feed the family.

    Some die-hard Liberals might adore her but out there in the real world Bishop would be electoral poison, even before we take into account her part as instructing solicitor for CSR fighting asbestos disease compensation claims.

    There are more shady dealings with some very dodgy clients in her past which I hope get a mention should this useless baggage ever become PM – although I doubt she will ever get that job.

  10. I been thinkin’ maybe a twiteratti or fb aficionado would set up an account whereby people who voted for tony could apologise to the nation for the pain and embarrassment they have caused Australia and thereby purge themselves of sin and guilt.

    Just a thought.

  11. Jules has had a stop-over on her way back from New york.

    Julie Bishop visits military personnel, government officials in Afghanistan to ‘reaffirm’ support

    And in other non-event news –

  12. foreverjanice

    That’s the sort of thing I was thinkin’ but I aint a twitterer and stay away from fb and those petition sites as they clog up the inbox with rubbish.

  13. Q: Do you approve of Rosie Batty being awarded the Australian of the Year honour?
    Lib Politician: Oh yes! She is a wonderful lady fully deserving of the honour/
    Q: Do you approve of the conferance of a knighthood on Prince Phillip?
    Lib Politician: I don’t comment on such matters.

  14. foreverjanice

    Well the idea is now out there let’s hope someone takes it up, it would be interesting to see the result.

  15. BK,

    Typical Lib answers. Dolly Downer’s statement about the royal knighthood was amusing…his appointment to that job was just as dumb as the the knighthood.

  16. I do Twitter and Facebook. I signed up with Facebook ages ago because my family are all keen on it and it’s a great way to keep in contact. Now I use it as a news feed as well.

    I could spend all day just on Twitter but I seldom have the time to do more than have a quick glance and I get a bit fed up with a lot of the trivia that gets tweeted. But there is an advantage – it is an excellent way to get breaking news.


  18. CanDo lying? 😯

    The claim: Campbell Newman says Queensland crime rates have “gone down very very significantly” because of LNP policy.

    The verdict: QLD crime rates have been dropping steadily for over 10 years, and the most recent data does not show a significant change in that trend. It is too soon to determine the impact of LNP policies on the trend, and individual statistics cited by the premier don’t tell the full story. The claim is exaggerated.

  19. leonetwo

    Fark me . Countess Crocidolite dressed not much less “formal” than Tones in Afghanistan. Thank goodness we “won” in Afghanistan years ago and made it immeasurably safer country otherwise who knows what she’d have to wear. 🙂

  20. The three Oz articles aren’t paywalled

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