Luke Batty Foundation to Close as Rosie Batty Steps Down
19 February 2018 at 5:37 pm
Acclaimed domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty is stepping down as CEO of the Luke Batty Foundation, with the foundation set to “close its doors” and distribute funds to other not-for-profit family violence initiatives.
Batty gained national attention in 2014 after her 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father at a cricket oval in Tyabb.
She then became a key advocate for DV reform in Australia, creating the Luke Batty Foundation and the Never Alone campaign to support women and children affected by family violence.
Last Friday, Batty announced she was stepping down as CEO of the foundation to “take time to breathe”.
As a result, the foundation will be wound down, with funds distributed to “appropriate not-for-profit family violence initiatives in line with the purpose of the foundation”.
Chairman of the Luke Batty Foundation Andrew Fairley AM, lauded Batty for her contribution to addressing DV in Australia.
“After four years of tirelessly campaigning on behalf of victims of family and domestic violence the board has accepted Rosie’s decision to step away from the intensity of the day to day commitments of the foundation,” Fairley said.
“Out of the most harrowing of circumstances, Rosie emerged as a leading voice calling for societal change to the way that we speak about, respond to and work to prevent domestic and family violence.
“On behalf of the board and staff, I extend our sincere and deep appreciation to Rosie.”
— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) February 16, 2018
In 2015, Batty was named Australian of the Year and voted winner of Pro Bono Australia’s Impact 25.
She played a key role in the establishment of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and was at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s side as he announced a $100 million domestic violence package in 2015.
Batty said it had been “a gruelling and unrelenting four years” since the death of her son cast her into the public spotlight.
“I realise that I can’t keep going at this pace forever. It is unsustainable and I am tired. I now need to prioritise my self-care and recognise my limitations – advice that has been given to me by trusted friends for some time,” Batty said.
“I have spoken at hundreds of speaking events across the country and overseas, and campaigned extensively whilst crisscrossing the nation.
“Now I need time to myself. Time to mourn and remember Luke, the centre of my world. Time to spend at home with my beautiful animals that continue to comfort me in ways that only four legged companions can.”
I'm so proud of everything we have achieved. Together we gave victims a voice and demanded our leaders act. I now need some time to myself. While I am not disappearing entirely, I do need to step away for a while. Read my message here: https://t.co/PisQAqjWdc
— Rosie Batty (@RosieBatty1) February 16, 2018
She announced the Luke Batty Foundation would be closing down, but said a transition period would take place to ensure a smooth process.
“The Luke Batty Foundation has supported me on this amazing but bittersweet journey and has enabled me to advocate and campaign in a way that would otherwise have been impossible,” she said.
“However, it is now taking steps to respectfully close its doors and transition its programs so that Luke’s legacy can continue to give voices to victims of family violence.
“Funds will be distributed to appropriate not-for-profit family violence initiatives in line with the purpose of the foundation and the board has appointed a transitional chief executive officer to manage this process.”
Fiona McCormack, the CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, told Pro Bono News she did not believe this announcement would signal the end of Batty’s involvement in addressing family violence.
“I think that the work of the foundation has been a fantastic initiative, but the work that Rosie has been able to do and will continue to do is beyond the foundation work as well,” McCormack said.
“So I think the work that Rosie does will just be through a different vehicle. I don’t think it’s her retirement or the end of her advocacy work in the community.”
McCormack said Batty’s influence on creating change around DV had been “unparalleled”.
“Despite the levels of violence against women, there wasn’t a lot of sympathy for women prior to Rosie. I think people were nervous of understanding the evidence base that this is a gendered issue and thought that it was claiming that all men were violent,” she said.
“But what Rosie was able to do was shine a light on the really tragic and difficult plight of so many women who fight so hard to protect themselves and their children from family violence.
“She generated a lot of empathy that wasn’t there before and passionate concern about the need for governments to actually tackle this as a mainstream issue rather than conceptualising it as something that happens in a private setting and is therefore no one else’s business.”
While noting the improvement in community attitudes to DV, McCormack said a lot of work still needed to be done in wake of Batty’s public break.
“As Rosie said, there’s so much more that needs to be done and so much more that governments could be doing,” she said.
“This is an issue that has been long misunderstood and neglected for so many years. The work to tackle it isn’t necessarily straightforward or easy, even with the royal commission’s recommendations.
“So in many ways, while community attitudes have come so far, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in states across Australia to really deliver on the systems required to keep kids and women safe.”
Batty said she would continue to support DV reform in Victoria as chair of the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council.