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Domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty will call for an end to a culture of victim blaming when she addresses the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
Batty will urge journalists to use their influence to report responsibly on family violence and to help change the culture, behaviour and attitudes which she believes underpin it.
“We have work to do if we are going to tackle the attitudes and beliefs that give rise to this violence,” Batty will tell reporters.
“‘Why didn’t she take her children out of such a violent situation?’, ‘she was wearing headphones’, or ‘she was drunk and out late on her own,’ are just some of the assertions that blame survivors for the violence inflicted upon them.”
Batty will also speak about the media response to the death of her 11-year-old son, Luke, who was murdered by his father, Batty’s estranged partner Greg Anderson, in February last year.
Luke was killed when Anderson hit him over the head with a cricket bat on a cricket field, before stabbing him with a knife. Anderson died too after stabbing himself and being shot by police.
Batty said her initial instinct was to tell the reporters who had gathered outside of her house the day after Luke’s death “to go away” but decided instead to talk to them in order to highlight the prevalence of family violence and that more needed to be done to stop it.
“And I was very open with journalists, so they didn’t try to fill in gaps in the story, which meant a platform of mutual respect was established from the outset,” Batty will say. “This has made a huge difference in my journey with the media.”
Throughout October and December, a coronial inquest into Luke’s death was heard at Victoria’s coroner’s court, where Batty, police, social services and family violence experts were witnesses.
The coroner, Ian Gray, is expected to hand down his recommendations later this year about what, if anything, services including the judicial system, police and child-support workers could have done differently to prevent Luke’s death.
“For me, the coronial inquest and the horrifying victim blaming that it brought to the fore really enabled me to see victim blaming for what it was: a misguided and damaging narrative that ultimately lets perpetrators off the hook,” Batty will tell reporters.
“So today, I’m urging the Australian media to join me in preventing violence against women and their children. Help the Australian public continue to join the national conversation.
“Together, we can stop violence before it starts. And we must do more to help women currently in crisis.”
According to Our Watch, an organisation founded by the commonwealth and Victorian governments to curb domestic violence, and for which Batty is an ambassador, one out of six women experience “intimate partner violence”.
Batty will launch the inaugural Our Watch awards during her speech, to recognise excellence in journalism that contributes to a deeper understanding of violence against women, its causes and prevention.
- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.
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