It’s a fantastic day for the women of Australia.
For the first time ever, women have been awarded the top honour in all four categories of the Australian of the Year Awards; Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year and Australia’s Local Hero.
Rosie Batty has been named Australian of the Year 2015, bringing much deserved recognition to her work to raise the profile of family and intimate partner violence after the tragic loss of her son Luke in February last year.
Luke Batty was killed by his father in a very public assault. He was just 11 years old.
Today Rosie, from Tyabb in Victoria, is being recognised for giving a voice to many thousands of survivors of family violence.
In an interview on Studio 10 late last year, Rosie told host Joe Hildebrand that she was “living in hope that because of Luke’s tragic death it would bring a huge awareness to family violence.”
Rosie also opened the way for public dialogue about domestic violence from the perspective of a survivor, a perspective that she stressed is not often easily comprehended:
Greg had finally lost control of me and the final act of control, which was the most hideous form of violence, was to kill my son. So don’t you ever think that if we don’t report it’s because we don’t want to. It’s because we are so scared about what might happen.
As Australian of the Year, Rosie is being honoured for using her tragic story as a call-to-action for others who desperately need help, support and a strong voice.
Other top award recipients.
61-year-old Jackie French was awarded Senior Australian of the year for her advocacy work on children’s literacy. As a best-selling children’s book author who has overcome dyslexia herself, Jackie is especially passionate about sharing the power of reading and literacy for children with learning difficulties.
The Young Australian of the Year Award went to 21-year-old Drisana Levitzke-Gray of Balga, Western Australia. As the fifth-generation in her family to be born deaf, Drisana is promoting diversity and awareness of the concept of “deaf gain” rather than “hearing loss”. Drisana is also dedicated to helping other deaf people and advocating for their human rights.
Juliette Wright is being honoured as Australia’s Local Hero for her work as a charity founder and her efforts to alleviate poverty in Australia by assisting vulnerable and marginalised people. The 41-year-old Queenslander is the founder and CEO of GIVIT, an online platform to get quality goods to those most in need. GIVIT became the government’s official website for matching donors and recipients during the 2011 Queensland floods.
The Chairman of the National Australia Day Council, Ben Roberts-Smith described the four award recipients as “great ambassadors” for Australia.
“It is a great moment in the 55 year history of these Awards to honour four women. Rosie, Jackie, Drisana and Juliette remind us of the many ways in which women contribute to our nation – that women are a force for change, a voice for rights, influencers, educators and the heart of our communities,” he said.