Commission Told Family Violence is Everyone’s Responsibility
11 August 2015 at 11:17 am
Domestic violence advocate and Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 member, Rosie Batty, implored Australian’s to continue raising awareness of the issue at the first Royal Commission into family violence being held in Victoria.
Batty, the key witness at Monday’s hearing, said, as domestic violence affects one in three women, every sector in society has a responsibility to keep up the momentum for change.
“This is one of the largest issues that we know as a society, and yet we’ve only just started to have our eyes open to it,” Batty said.
“We cannot afford to lose that, because this is our moment in time for change to happen… to challenge the views, and the acceptance of this problem, and start to say, no we don’t actually have to live with it. We don’t have to accept or tolerate it, we can actually stop it.”
Batty has campaigned for family violence awareness since her 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father in the town of Tyabb, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in February 2014.
Since being named Australian of the Year, Batty alone has spoken to 40,000 people about issue. She said if one person can reach this number of people, it’s “ridiculous” that there isn’t greater awareness.
“This an enormous societal issue, but we’ve really only being acknowledging it as such for what, two years,” Batty said to the media after the hearing.
“Many people have worked for decades in this space never seeing change and never feeling heard.”
Batty said victim blaming is pervasive, and she wants people to change their language to focus on the abuser instead of the victim.
“I talk to [people] about how we really look at victim blaming as a society. We don’t realise we do it,” she said.
“I ask them to consider the next time they’re raising questions like ‘why doesn’t she leave’, when indeed that is a pivotal time when indeed you can be murdered, that we should really be considering the perpetrator’s behaviour.
“We actually spend most of our time discussing and criticising and judging the victim and the perpetrator remains out of conversation and discussion.”
The focus of Monday’s hearing was on culture change in the community and workplace, and witnesses highlighted the link between family violence and gender inequality.
Speaking to the media after the hearing, Batty criticised politicians for making inappropriate remarks about women.
“I think as a country we’ve become very aware of the sexist attitudes of leaders in our country, we hear those statements and we don’t like them,” she said.
“I think cultural change means no one is immune, cultural change has to come from the highest levels. We just need to be mindful of our attitudes and opinions and challenge them.”
Batty called for better education programs on gender equality and healthy relationships, and said they should begin as early as kindergarten and continue throughout schooling.
“My understanding is that societies who have more gender balance have less violence. If we understand and appreciate that, then what we’re really needing to do is see that more fully demonstrated,” Batty said.
“As I see it, for culture change, it’s about that saturation where, and I hope I’ve done my part over this past year, society starts to recognise that, oh that’s family violence.”
It is the final week of public sittings for the Royal Commission, which was initiated by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews after meeting with Batty.