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. Aguirre
    I agree with all that you said. No matter who is leader the government still has the same dud policies and the same detested budget.

  2. And that is as “strong” a signed criticism from his mates that you’ll get

    Mr Joyce told ABC Local Radio that Prince Phillip had contributed to Australia through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award but he would not give him Australia’s top honour.

    “I’m always of the strong belief that all awards should be for Australians,” he said.

    “There’s been awards in the past given to Nelson Mandela and to other people from overseas, my preference is that these awards go to Australians.”

    Mr Joyce said Mr Abbott was entitled to make his own decisions as Coalition leader.

  3. Leone and Aguirre,

    Not only dud policies and detested budget, they are all a bunch of incompetent dingbats. The reason so many people are plugging for turnbull is he was reputed to have a brain in his noddle, but it is increasingly becoming obvious that the grey cells were only a very thin covering over cotton wool.

  4. This little black duck
    January 27, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    Come May it’ll be detested budgets.

    Which reminds me … have they passed their first budget in the Senate yet? Last I’d heard it was still in limbo, with Hockey making dire threats as his contribution to negotiating. But perhaps it sneaked past amid the noise of all the other blunders.

  5. Yeah, Turnbull’s political acumen was overrated. He completely floundered up against Rudd, and his delivery in Parliament tended to be much too wordy and meaningless. He’d probably cope (in a Baillieu kind of way) if he had a lead to protect. He’d be able to stodge it out. But not from where they are right now, with their reputation in tatters.

  6. Ducky,

    Well, Qld’s Chamber of Commerce would say that, wouldn’t they ? I’ve always thought every CofC has always give small business poor advice because they are protectors of big business in the first instance.

  7. Not a good sign for Tones. Just saw a this pop up on the screen , missed the name of the minister but he had felt the need to say “Tony Abbott has the full support of the party.”

  8. Mr Joyce told ABC Local Radio that Prince Phillip had contributed to Australia through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award but he would not give him Australia’s top honour.

    Sir Barnaby of dunking taxpayers cars?

  9. Fiona,
    Good read from Wright.
    As you know once the Gallery get on a roll, it moves in one direction. This won’t stop. The polls won’t stop. The back grounding won’t stop. It will not even be permanently broken by the 100 yr ceremony at Gallilopli. Oakes, Coorey, Tingle, Riley, Gordon, Grattan, etc will be part of the game. Goodbye Tony.

  10. While I agree that it’s unlikely Abbott will survive for much longer, I wouldn’t discount the libs’ chances of rebounding with him gone.

    A blathering pompous soft-soaping dissembler like Turnbull could turn the polls around quickly.

    From watching politics for 40 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can never overestimate the gullibility of the public.

  11. Al

    It will not even be permanently broken by the 100 yr ceremony at Gallilopli.

    I’m well over this advertising on it.

    I may sleep through.

  12. I don’t suppose the abbott is deliberately swinging his wrecking ball every which way? I can’t help but think he’s been given ‘unwelcome’ advice laced with the threat of being kicked out on his arse should he not change his ways. In response he has let loose his insane vindictive side and is out to punish all and sundry….how dare Newman ban him from the Qld election gig (didn’t he learn from the Victorian lnp’s experience). And Federally, if PM abbott is to be ridiculed and blamed for the govt’s woes, why not tarnish the whole bloody show and show all these mealy mouthed sycophants who were happy to get right behind him when all the hate was splashed on Labor and now are deserting him like rats from a sinking ship.

    The abbott is another rudd – it’s just that he has a different method of destructive revenge.

  13. fiona

    More ridicule

    Wright is a very sarcastic f##ker I wonder how he survives. Everything he writes has to be read backwards.

  14. Al Palster,

    Indeed. Nothing like blood in the water to get the scribblers sharks excited.


    His send-up of Ms Bishop Jr. was delicious.

  15. Fiona,
    I’ve just noticed a piece by Sean Kelly on the New Daily website referring to Laurie Oakes’s piece to air last night. I can’t post from this tablet, but it’s worth a click. Kelly made my point.

  16. TLBD. on that pic of the “Blunderbuss”..Poor Bryce amomgst all that LNP. sewerage..: “Not swimming ;Drowning!”

  17. The abbott is another rudd – it’s just that he has a different method of destructive revenge.

    If Abbott gets rolled, then what he does after will make Rudd look like the most loyal party member in the world.

  18. You might be right, Dedalus. One thing I’ll say about Turnbull is that Murdoch has no time for him, so he wouldn’t get a free ride from the press at all. If they’re going to back a horse to take them to the next election, it has to be the only anointed one, Bishop. So that could happen. I’m discounting any purported backlash from having a female lead the party. They’ll hold their noses and make the best of it, especially if Murdoch tells them to. They know how to hold their noses, they’ve been doing it since 2009.

    The thing that nags me about a change of leader is this: yes, there’ll be a bit of a fanfare and a lot of talk about a ‘new direction’ and whatnot, and that will be reflected in a poll boost and fawning articles. But… then what? The public picked up on and reacted to the draconian budget measures with little if any prompting from the media, who seem more concerned with how the Coalition are going to sell the policies than the policies themselves. We’re continually being told that the policies are good, the policies are right, and the salesmanship is to blame. But that’s not the message we’re giving back to them.

    When it comes to the policy issue, any new leader is going to have to stand up and defend them or they’re going to have to change them. There are no other options available. The media are going to expect some savvy talk to take back to their readers. Personally, I’ve never heard anyone on the front bench explain them any better than Abbott has. It’s always rung false and hollow. Unless they get some really, really talented speech-writers, they’ll be in the same hole they’re currently in with regards to selling what they’re offering.

    So they might dump a few of the more unpopular measures, but the pressure from the IPA to reinstate them will ramp up, and there’s no way they’ll be sneaking anything back in without some ‘return to Abbott’s values’ reportage accompanying it.

    Bishop’s not even all that successful a presence. She has two personae – hard-faced snitchy schoolmarm, and jokey flirty boys-club enabler. As I said earlier, I heard her ‘light-hearted’ speech at the North Melbourne Grand Final breakfast, and boy does she have a tin ear for the light jokey stuff. The guys in the studio did everything except actually make the catty ‘rowr’ noise and the claws-out gesture after they heard her. She was that catty.

    There’s a chance they can pull it off. But they’d have to tiptoe through a mine-field carrying a ton of baggage to do it.

  19. In regards to Morrison, he does loom large as a threat, but I think he’s too cruel to be popular, and his smug arrogance and secrecy won’t win him any new friends. Also, if the Liberals are irritated by Abbott and Credlin’s micromanagement, Morrison hardly looks like the champion of easygoing management. If Labor can successfully fight Abbott it can fight Morrison.

  20. The problem for us is that if they ditch Abbott, they lose their two of clubs and retain at least one strong ace – a compliant media.

    Furthermore, if they change leaders it makes sense that they might change policies.

    PPL, for one, would go. Turnbull might announce that fibre has now become more cost-effective. Hockey might suddenly start explaining that issuing bonds at 2.5 percent is a sensible way of providing needed infrastructure and retiring more expensive debt. In fact, heaps of U-turns become plausible if spun well – on the basis, for example, of being “more consultative”.

    I can hear it now: “you’ve spoken, and we’ve heard you.”

    All is forgiven. Come in spinner.

  21. To keep you all up to date with the renovations of Gum Nut (what I cam going to call my house as everything comes from Gumtree!) I have found 30 sq metres of used floating floor for $150. Has some scratches and a bit of wear but will be good for the bedrooms. My dogs nails would soon add some extra decoration I asssume. I am going to have a look. With a nice rug and the beds and the best bits by the doors, i reckon I can make it work. This kind of recycling is more fun that just going to bunnings and buying boxes of stuff.

  22. If Abbott gets rolled, then what he does after will make Rudd look like the most loyal party member in the world.

    Yes, but he hasn’t been rolled…yet. I agree that if/when he does get rolled he’ll make Rudd look like a sainted loyalist. Meanwhile, I get the impression he’s giving his colleagues a taste of what is to come IF they get the courage to kick him out on his arse.

  23. Abbott will probably have sour grapes big time if he loses, but a key difference to Rudd is that the coalition has a large majority in the lower house, so if he gets too nasty they can simply kick him out, and if a Warringah by-election occurs then it won’t be that big of a deal.

  24. Good points, Dedalus. What you’re saying is undoubtedly the most rational thing they can do, and they’re capable of it, quite definitely. If they do, it’s going to give them a massive shot at the next election, maybe even tip it in their favour. But there’s just something about the way they’ve handled things so far that makes me wonder where they’re at.

    I’ve been fascinated at this government’s insistence on retaining – and in some cases actually upping the scale of – their more unpopular policies in the fact of such strong public opposition. Not giving an inch is killing them, it’s destroying their reputation, and it’s severely unsettled their own backbenchers and rank and file members. Especially seeing as there’s been zero economic benefit out of it, or even a believable argument that it is the right way forward. Why would they do that? It’s perplexing me.

    They’ll change their policies if they can. I just don’t think their policy direction is entirely – or possibly at all – in their own hands. I think it’s been dictated entirely by the Business Council and the IPA. The question, I suppose, is whether those two august bodies feel inclined to soften their attack in order to preserve a compliant government. That could happen. If it does, it’s already a partial success for the progressive side of politics. But then, there’s nothing to stop that happening while Abbott is still leader. It would be the smartest way to save his PM-ship and allow the party to retain their ‘stability’ mantra.

    And then I guess it boils down to whether Abbott is actually acting as an autocrat and imposing his own ‘style’ on this government, or whether he’s just a conduit for corporate interests, at their beck and call. if it’s the former, a change of leader will lead to an immediate change in policy direction. If it’s the latter, the policy direction will remain, and they’ll look at the way it’s sold.

    At any rate, we won’t get an NBN while Murdoch’s body is still warm, and maybe not even after that.

  25. Kirsdarke: Depose and then completely dump a sitting PM? In his first term? That wouldn’t be a great look. They’d have a very hard time living that down, and defending any of his PM-ship in the aftermath. Can’t see anything but a massive schism there.

  26. OK, here’s a weird thought. Probably not original, but.

    Abbott has already been tapped on the shoulder, OR he’s got a medical condition, OR both. Anyways, he’s due for the chop come February’s party room meeting.

    So the honchos got together and worked out this plot with Abbott’s consent. The Abbott pretends to go completely feral by knighting Phil the Greek, which naturally creates howls of derision amongst the left and moans and much forehead slapping from the more credulous members of the right.

    But here’s the thing. It’s brilliant. The honchos actually are savvy to the laws of science. Who’d have thought. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Get it? The peeps will be so relieved to get rid of the pommy lickspittle there’ll be a big reaction in the overall mentality and bogan zeitgeist.

    Short story the polls switch, the lizards get busy, and hey presto, the Earl of Wentworth is PM for 2 extra terms.

    Everyone is happy, specially Rupert. And all this without having to knight the Earl of Wentworth for services rendered. I mean, it’s so simple.

    As I said, come in spinner.

  27. Actually, the abbott only thinks he has his colleagues by the short and curlies by pointing to Labor’s leadershit folly. The point they’re missing is that at the time of Rudd’s dumping he wasn’t widely loathed out in voterland as the abbott is and the media were all rampant LNP supporters. The abbott turd has been polished and recoated numerous times until even the media have reluctantly come to the realisation that the man is a stupid prick and nothing will ever change that fact – so, the abbott is in the line of fire without even Murdoch to shield him.

    Besides, not a soul will shed a tear when he lies alone and bleeding. The abbott’s demise won’t hurt the LNP as Rudd hurt Labor, so any damage he wants to do to hurt them, he has to do before they get the courage to oust him.

  28. Janice,

    I can only hope that, when he does go, Mrs a can summon up enough courage to divorce him.

  29. The Abbott Effect in action.

    Sometimes I feel like a latter day Rip Van Winkle – ………The difference between Rip’s experiences and mine is that I feel like I have nodded off and woken up in the 1950’s where nothing has changed.

    In the 50’s our Governor General was a knighted male soldier, our PM was a pommie sycophant and our national trait was talking about what it means to be an Aussie

    Fast forward a lifetime and our Governor General is a knighted male soldier, our PM is a pommie sycophant and our national trait is talking about what it means to be an Aussie.

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