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Domestic violence campaigner
Australian of the Year 2015
Rosie Batty put domestic violence on the national agenda by calling for systemic change after her son, Luke, was killed by his father in 2014.
Rosie’s incredible strength and selfless efforts are an inspiration to many victims of domestic violence and her courage and willingness to speak out will make Australia a far better place.
Rosie joined ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson in a conversation about giving a voice to victims of family violence and what it meant to be Australian of the Year. Recorded at the National Museum on 1 November 2015.
When a grieving mother spoke out calmly just hours after her son’s murder, she gave voice to many thousands of victims of domestic violence who had until then remained unheard. Rosie Batty has risen above her personal tragedy and the great loss of her 11-year-old son, Luke, who was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father in a very public assault. Rosie’s story jolted Australia into recognising that family violence can happen to anyone.
Victorian Police Chief Commissioner, Ken Lay, praising Rosie as the most ‘remarkable victim’ he has ever met, says Rosie has put domestic violence on the national agenda. Rosie now champions efforts to fight domestic violence, making many media and public-speaking appearances to shine a spotlight on the issue and call for systemic changes.
Along with Ken Lay, Rosie has been named as the founding member of the Council of Australian Governments advisory panel on preventing violence against women.
Children’s doll dressed in hand-knitted clothing
For the Museum exhibition, Rosie chose this doll as an object of special significance, that communicated something special about her life and experiences. Rosie's godmother gave her this doll when she was a small child. It is wearing clothing hand-knitted by her grandmother.
Family is everything
'This was my favourite doll which I have owned since I was seven years old. My grandmother "Nanna Atkin" knitted the clothing for me so that my special doll could wear something that she had made that I could treasure forever. Family to her was everything. She was one of the most important people in my life after my mother died when I was just six years old.'
'My Nanna was an ordinary woman who was the centre of the family and loved by all. She had a great sense of humour and was always positive.'
Rosie Batty shares her story with Jeremy Lasek from the National Australia Day Council at the National Museum exhibition launch in December 2014.
Jeremy Lasek: It is my great pleasure now to welcome Rosie Batty to the microphone. Rosie is the Victorian Australian of the Year and she has shown amazing courage since the death of her son, Luke earlier this year. Rosie, you have had to deal this year with the most awful circumstances imaginable. What’s given you the courage to battle on as you have and to become a voice for people who are victims of domestic violence?
Rosie Batty: I have always believed in the human spirit and I think we have immense courage within us. And when you are faced with the worst challenges possible, it is amazing where you can find that strength. You gain strength from family and you gain strength from friends.
This amazing journey I’ve been on since Luke's death, I have been given the greatest kindness and support from everyone and it's been far-reaching. I still get cards; I still get gifts; I still get a lot of kindness being shown to me. I’ve always believed that, just like what's happening in Sydney at the moment, when there's great tragedy there is enormous community goodwill. That’s what makes us human and that’s what gives us a sense of connectivity; belonging.
There is so much badness in the world, but there is so much more good. We all have it within us to be better people and make the world a better place. I am really humbled to be here today with these wonderful people – and to see my little doll.
Jeremy Lasek: It's a special object. It is a little doll. What’s the story behind that doll?
Rosie Batty: Well for some reason all my dolls ended up without any clothes. I don't know where they went. I’m sure they came in clothing. But she was a really beautiful little pretty doll with long blond hair – possibly something I might have liked to have had blond hair. She was given to me by my godmother when I was very little. It was soon after my Mum died because my Mum died when I was six. So she was a real comfort to me.
Over the years I asked my grandmother, Nanna Atkin, if she would knit me some clothes for my doll so that I could keep her forever and treasure her and have something that my grandma had made for me. She would be extremely thrilled to know that she's here in spirit. There’s a lovely picture of her. She lived until she was 100 and she was the most inspiring woman with a great sense of family. She was still the very centre of the family loved by everybody, and she lived long enough to see Luke when he was six months old, and she died two months later.