Be the Change Conversation with Rosie Batty

Author: BM Team
Issue 70

Be the Change Conversation with Rosie Batty

Vickie sits down with Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, one amazing women. To lose your 11 year old child at the hand of his own father would quite possibly crush most people. Instead Rosie has used this adversity to give domestic violence a voice and becoming Australian of the Year for 2014 was indeed the pinnacle for that voice.

 People are now listening to Rosie. Rosie is walking proof that ‘it is never the situation that makes us who we are, it is always what we do from there’. We admire her so much for being the change in the face of domestic violence and in the face of women and people indeed all over Australia, and the world today.  I interviewed Rosie after she spoke at the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network, International Women’s Day.

Tell us a little bit about your thoughts on how you are being the change

I guess it’s when I speak at large events or meet people in public that come to me every day and say to me ‘please keep saying what you say, please keep doing what you do because what you are saying is exactly what I feel and what my experience is’. So the very fact that I get that feedback inspires me to know I’m on the right path.

Why do you think you got chosen as Australian of the Year?

When you do look at all the other finalists you do wonder because they have done such amazing work in their own fields and in their own way. Some of them have worked for decades and decades being extremely effective. You would like everyone to win the award.  But I think for me, it was because the time was right. 

The time for family violence to be given a platform, I think it was the right time.  I can see why they looked to choose someone like myself who had been very much in the public eye over the past year and also because the conversation needed to be given so much more opportunity for the year ahead.

At the breakfast for the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network International Women’s Day, there were 360 people in the room. Using your statistic of one in four people that means one or two people on every table that had their own adversity. That’s a lot of people!

I think it’s to acknowledge it and to realise that we have nothing to feel ashamed for. There is really no reason that we should be quiet and silent and keep things a secret, to be looked at and judged and criticised or fear that we might be. The fact we are starting to be able to admit that. Wherever we are, in whatever suburb we are in, whatever area of the country we may be in, there will be one in three women that are sitting around a function table, in a ballroom, in a business boardroom, wherever we may go, or at the neighbours’ barbecue; there will be one in three women that have been touched by family violence. Unfortunately, it also includes one in four children. It is confronting. The fact it has been a hidden topic, that we haven’t felt able to speak out about it. It is astounding we don’t know those statistics. Unfortunately this year, it started off really badly because it is now two women a week that are killed by a partner or an ex-partner.  So, you know when we consider the degree of public anger and demand for change from violence on streets,  we really have to question why we have been ambivalent to the fact we have two women being killed a week.

You have been an advocate for change in this field, and you have said more than once you want to make a difference. What are you doing to make a difference?

Making a difference by speaking out at any opportunity in community forums and at community events. But also, meeting with politicians, both federal and state. Particularly in Victoria, where we now have a government that is particularly focused by calling a royal commission into family violence. That’s really a great leadership statement. And looking at the Luke Batty Foundation, the key point of difference for me is that it is a national organisation that is looking to help women and children affected by the trauma of family violence. It is about helping those frontline services and demanding systemic change.

Something you said in the room today, really touched me. It’s something I’ve thought myself.  You said, when we know someone in a domestic violence situation we all say why doesn’t she just leave? What’s her problem?  I wouldn’t stay. Why doesn’t she just leave?

I think when you consider it’s your home, it’s your family, it’s the life that you have planned, so you don’t want to leave. You just want the violence to stop. You’re caught in a conundrum where you accept a lot of the behaviour because you don’t want to break up the family, or you don’t want to break up your view of life that you’ve always worked to have and the family unit you’ve built. The key point we all have to understand, for a women to leave a bad relationship can place them in the biggest risk. That is the point when they have lost control. You can be killed or seriously injured. So your risk is extremely heightened.  At this point, we can’t keep women and their children safe seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We really have to understand the degree of fear is very real and it is extremely difficult.

In closing, tell us about the two apps that are coming out and how they’re going to be the change?

Technology is a great way forward because we all have a mobile phone. The thing we take with us everywhere we go - we feel concerned if we’ve forgotten it.  Certainly, if you are trying to leave a violent situation you take your mobile phone and your car keys, and you’re trying to escape. For me, app technology seems a very sensible tool.  iMatter has been developed and it’s available via iTunes for young women and they can assess healthy relationships. I think that’s really important when we are dating; we are not quite sure, not sure how comfortable we are with the dynamics of a relationship.  That can be a tool that can really help and also, if you have a friend you are concerned for.  The other app is called Daisy and is available on both Apple and Android.  Daisy is a national app that can link you in no matter where you are, where you live, with the correct specialists.  Sometimes we want help, or we want someone to speak to and we don’t quite know where to go or who to ask. Or we may have a friend or family member that we want to link into the right support. I think these apps are really important.  If you have someone you’re concerned about, share these apps with them.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I think it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s an issue we share with men.  You know, men are largely appalled by violence in the way some men choose violence as a form of power and control.  It’s joining together, in our own communities and within our own networks saying how can we make a change, what can we do to change this? It starts in our own conversations or our views, challenging them, talking about them and understanding them, and placing them on the local organisations to say what are we doing in our local community and really want to support and make change.