This is how to address domestic violence: Rosie Batty
The former Australian Of The Year is speaking at the Breakthrough event this weekend
She's become the face of domestic violence victims for the most tragic of reasons; in 2014 her 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father Greg Anderson.
Since then, Rosie Batty has gone on to become a voice for other victims - and those campaigning for a better approach to domestic violence.
This weekend she'll speak at Breakthrough - a Melbourne event championing gender equality which is proudly supported by marie claire. We caught up with her ahead of the event.
Q: The statistics around family violence in Australia are frightening. Can you outline some strategies for change you hope to see in this lifetime?
Rosie: "This is a big question. It's true that Australia still needs big policy, budget and cultural changes to turn this epidemic around. Broadly speaking, we need to empower women, give children a voice in the system and hold perpetrators accountable. This means more long-term, guaranteed funding for support and crisis services for women and children, improvements to the way the justice and judicial systems treats family violence issues, and better support in the community for men to take responsibility and change behaviour."
Q: What is the one thing that needs to happen to make the biggest change around family violence in this country?
Rosie: "This is too hard to identify. But one particular thing I am focused on at the moment are problems with the family law system which are putting women and children in danger. Many people don't know for example that victims can still be cross examined by their abusers in the family law system. Not only is this traumatising for the victim it also prevents proper evidence being delivered and that leads to dangerous decisions from the court. We need to empower victims to give evidence without fear or intimidation if we are to be sure that children are not placed with abusive parents."
Q: Your activism and strength has become a source of inspiration and hope for countless men and women around the world. What does resilience mean to you?
Rosie: "I just keep going. The stories of thousands of women are whirling around in my head and I've been given the opportunity to speak out for them. For so long victims were kept silent and now that is beginning to change."
Q: In what way do you think the conversation has changed around family violence in Australia.
Rosie: "The conversation hasn't changed so much as it has just started. It's out in the open now and people are more aware of the problems. However, it's only just the beginning. The statistics are getting worse before they get better. The big systemic and cultural changes we need to end gender based based violence will not happen overnight, but it's very heartening to see that at least we are now having an honest conversation about it."
Q: For men and women reading this who might be in challenging circumstances, what words of hope would you give them?
Rosie: "Violence is never ok. You have the right to feel safe and no one should be able to take that away from you. There are services and support out there that can help if you need it. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. And just as important, we are campaigning for change. Anyone who would like to join with me and help campaign for change can sign up to be a member of the Never Alone community for free at neveralone.com.au".