HONORARY DOCTOR: Rosie Batty addresses the audience at the Gympie Civic Centre.
HONORARY DOCTOR: Rosie Batty addresses the audience at the Gympie Civic Centre. Scott Kovacevic

'Change will happen': Batty speech gets standing ovation

SPEAKING before more than 150 people at the Gympie Civic Centre, Rosie Batty stressed respect was the a key need to stop family violence.

The former Australian of the Year was the recipient of an honorary University of the Sunshine Coast doctorate for her work campaigning for a violence-free future for Australia. Fighting back tears as she spoke, Ms Batty talked about the effect losing her son Luke had on her life.

She said it was important to ensure no-one else ever went through what she did in 2014, when her 11-year-old son was murdered by his father.

"I will try to make sense of it for the rest of my life,” she said.

Constantly asked if she was seeing change since she started campaigning, Ms Batty said the process was long but would ultimately be worth it.

"I can't bring back Luke but what we can do is recognise the change we need to see, to stop more Luke's from losing their lives, will happen.”

Rosie Batty.
Rosie Batty. Warren Lynam

Highlighting the role gender inequality played in family violence, she said acknowledging it as a cause did not mean she was painting all men as bad, nor all women as good.

However, she said it was necessary to fix an environment which allowed some people to view women and children as possessions and property.

She also highlighted the need to look at the effects on family violence not only in our own community, but in the corners as well, including indigenous communities and the staggeringly high rates of family violence in them.

Another area which was in crucial need of change was the perception over why people remained in violent relationships.

Pointing out that women were most at risk of being killed when they made the decision to leave, she said the focus needed to be shifted from asking "why does she stay”, to "why is he choosing to be violent”?

Her speech was met by a standing ovation from the audience. In the wake of her tragedy, Ms Batty has been at the forefront of the push to expose the darkest corners of family violence.

She has campaigned tirelessly for change, and played a key role in Victoria's landmark commission into family violence, which resulted in 227 recommendations and more than $570 million dollars being committed by the Victorian government.

Gympie Times

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