A conversation with Rosie Batty

Good evening.

It is wonderful to be here with you all.

I would like to start by thanking Serena Williams, Ngunnawal Elder, for her acknowledgement of country tonight, and begin by acknowledging all the people who have lived or living experience of family, domestic or sexual violence - and acknowledge those who are no longer with us because of it.

I would of course like to acknowledge Rosie Batty, and all of my Parliamentary colleagues here tonight.

Violence against women and children is unacceptable.

One life lost to family, domestic and sexual violence is one too many. 

Family, domestic and sexual violence can happen to anyone.

It can happen unexpectedly and in the most horrific and devastating of ways.

We’re here tonight because of the experience of Rosie and the terrible toll family violence took on her life, and the life of her son Luke.

We’re also here tonight to mark Rosie’s new book Hope that marks the challenges and contributions Rosie has made to the public discourse on family and domestic violence since Luke’s death.

Luke was only 11 years old when family violence took his life.

The nation was left shocked as we heard the tragic news of a young boy who was killed at the hands of his own father.

No parent should ever have to endure such sorrow.

As everyone here tonight knows, in her mourning, Rosie chose to channel her grief, her anger and her pain towards building a future that elevates the voices and stories of victim-survivors and their families.

The day after Luke’s death, Rosie spoke eloquently and emotionally.

She reminded us that domestic violence can happen to anyone. Rosie said at the time – and I quote: “Family violence happens to everybody, no matter how nice your house is or how intelligent you are”.

Rosie pushed Australians to have difficult, honest, and raw conversations about family, domestic and sexual violence – because the price of silence is just too high.

Her advocacy pushed us all to do better and to listen to the voices of victim-survivors if we really wanted to achieve change.

It is in that spirit that our National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032 specifically recognised that effective solutions to end violence cannot be developed without the people most affected by them.

And it’s why we have also established the Lived Experience Advisory Council which is providing advice to the inaugural Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner, Micaela Cronin, to help improve policies, systems and services, and monitor implementation and progress towards the objectives of the National Plan.

Rosie also advocated for systemic change and in particular the need for a focus on preventing violence – from stopping it before it starts.

This approach mirrors what so many advocates and sector leaders told us in the development of the National Plan, which puts the experiences of victim-survivors and the need to stop violence before it starts at the centre of our responses.

The National Plan also set out our shared goal with states and territories of ending violence against women and children in one generation.

This was a powerful signal that together we all have said ‘no more’.

Through the domains of prevention, early intervention, response and recovery and healing our Government, and governments across the nation, are all working to achieve the systemic change that is needed to achieve this goal.

Primary prevention – changing the social conditions that give rise to violence, and reforming the institutions and systems that excuse, justify or even promote such violence – is crucial to achieving our goal to end violence within a generation.

It’s why in our very first Budget after forming government, our Government provided significant investment of more than $104 million to continue and expand the role of Our Watch, as the national primary prevention agency, to broaden its reach in diverse populations including LGBTIQ+, disability and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

But, we all need to be pulling in the same direction if we are to achieve the change we want to see. Governments, business and society more broadly.

We know gender stereotypes are also harmful drivers of violence and we are working hard to change these.

There have been positive signs that the national primary prevention campaign Stop it at the Start is driving sustained change in attitudes across broad groups of society.

But there are also real and emerging threats to our progress, with recent research finding that 25 per cent of teenage boys in Australia look up to social media personalities who perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes and condone violence against women.

These new significant influences are having a greater impact on the attitudes and behaviours of young people towards gendered disrespect.

We must address these attitudes if we want to stop violence at the start. That’s why we’re investing in a healthy masculinities program so boys in particular have positive role models to look up to online, rather than the likes of Andrew Tate and others, as well as supporting the development and distribution of social media resources on consent.

While there is still much for us to do, I’m proud that our Government has invested a record $2.3 billion into these efforts across all areas of prevention, early intervention, response, recovery and healing.

It’s a privilege to be a part of our Government’s work towards our goal to eliminate violence against women and children in one generation.

And while I have spoken about some of the approaches we’ve taken, it’s important to note it’s just the tip of the iceberg and we are all working together to create and progress change.

Our Government’s work however is just one part of that.  

I look forward to hearing from Rosie and tonight’s speakers about their ideas on how we can continue to give survivors a platform, strengthen the delivery of gender-based violence prevention initiatives, and bring hope to those most impacted.

Thank you to everyone here tonight who has contributed and continues to contribute to this important work – especially to Rosie.

Together, we can all work to end violence against women and children.