Tomorrow, we will have a new Australian of the Year.
There will be chatter about the worthiness of the choice, there will be fanfare and handshakes with the Prime Minister and gala dinners, and while that hums away in the background, Rosie Batty will quietly finish up her stint as Australia’s most reluctant figurehead.
Rosie is the first to admit that she has a”celebrity status that no-one wants”. She is our Australian Of The Year because of what happened to her son, Luke, murdered by his father, but she is still in our consciousness because of what she has chosen to do with that unimaginable position.
She has spent a year talking about the most difficult thing it is possible to talk about — losing a child in horrific circumstances — because she wanted to give family violence victims a desperately needed voice, and a face.
She has endured the feedback — some well-meaning, some far less so — of an armchair audience so that they might understand the crisis we are facing.
And this week, that obligation will end, and the next chapter will begin to unfurl.
It’s time to thank Rosie Batty for insisting that a light was shone on an issue that had been pushed aside for too long.
It’s time to say thank you, Rosie, for your strength and courage when the world had no right to expect either from you.
But most of all, thank you, Rosie Batty, for your honesty.
Mia Freedman admitted that she was nervous about meeting Rosie Batty when she came into the Mamamia offices for an interview. They ended up talking about everything from how you prepare yourself to talk about the worst moment of your life to what she can laugh about now.
Rosie tells Mia about her critics:
“They immediately swing into, well if I was her I would have done this, well if I was here I would have done that, if I was here I would never have let him see Luke, if I was her I would never have let that happen. And you go hang on a minute, I am a mother, you are a parent, no one loves your child more than you do. Don’t you think for one minute that I might have done anything possible over that 12 years, out of love for my son, don’t you think I would have already thought of it, already tried it, already been down that path?”
On the outcome that she and other family violence campaigners want:
What makes me more unique is that fact that Luke got murdered, which was a very unfortunate outcome but the journey through court, the journey as victim of violence is very typical for most victims. It is bit like Russian Roulette as to how well the police respond, how well the magistrate or judges are on that day, how factors can align and you can feel supported and vindicated and the outcome is what you would hope for. But ultimately we just want the violence to stop, if we could choose to not press charges, not to get an intervention order, not to go to court. That would be what we want.
On grief, almost two years on:
So for me now it is really daunting to realise that I am not going to have the things that my friends are going to have with their children. It is a really big hurdle for me. And waves of grief are different, one minute it’s about the lack of idyllic family life you couldn’t give him, the next minute it will be something else and then it is a phase of I can’t experience his 18th or his 21st and what that means then is you’re challenged about your friends and their children and their milestones and wanting to be happy for them and being happy but having the dagger in the heart at the same time. And so you kind of go, you know what I kind of need to distance myself for a while, in a way or somehow.
What would you like to say to Rosie Batty?