COFFEE CHATS: Rosie Batty shares from the heart

Rosie Batty (Australian of the Year and campaigner against family violence). Picture: Contributed

By Matt Collins

In 2014, Rosie Batty’s 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father Greg Anderson. Seven years on and Rosie believes family violence is still a national epidemic. In their chat, Rosie shares with Matt her relationship with Luke’s father and why she wanted the relationship to work even though she felt uncomfortable.

Matt Collins: Rosie, when you speak with groups, what is the main message you try to instil in the audience?

Rosie Batty: I always speak from the heart without notes. I am always reminding people of what a huge social issue this is that affects so many women. We still have statistics that are unacceptable and we still need so much more to be done. One woman a week is being murdered and one in three women will experience violence. I always reiterate those statistics because they should be alarming. We are much more aware of this issue now. So many more people are recognizing they are in an abusive and dangerous relationship and they are seeking help.

MC: Respectfully, I would like to ask about your situation. For those who may not be aware, in 2014 your 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father Greg Anderson. Was there a history of abuse from Greg towards you?

RB: We had never lived together, we never married and I really had hoped when we were having a child together, that we would be able to live together and have more children. The fantasy I had was it all would be ok and we could work through things if I changed my behaviour or if I didn’t press his buttons or if I didn’t nag him. I didn’t truly recognise that what he was was violent and abusive. I didn’t feel comfortable with his behaviour but I didn’t see it as violent.

MC: Leading up to Luke’s death, did you have any inkling that something as traumatic as that might happen?

RB: No. I think when you have been managing violence from an ex-partner for some time, you think you know what they are about. You gauge what they are likely to do with their tactics and how they play out. Of course I am a lot more informed now and I would see those red flags from a more expert view. But ultimately as I made him accountable for certain behaviours that I no longer accepted and continued to go to the police and the courts, I now recognise that was placing me at a very high risk that neither the police or the courts recognised that at the time and nobody warned me. I don’t think anybody realised initially that Luke was at such risk.