In January this year Rosie Batty was named the 2015 Australian of the Year.
It was a watershed moment. A historic turning point. It marked the beginning of a national conversation about domestic violence that had previously eluded us.
It brought family violence out of the shadows. It cemented DV as a topic that politicians, the media and ordinary Australians could no longer easily ignore.
Through the most tragic of circumstances Rosie Batty was propelled into the public consciousness in February of 2014. Her only son Luke was killed at the hands of his father while his mother waited by the cricket nets just metres away.
In the face of this unimaginable horror stood a woman of unimaginable resilience. Rosie Batty etched her way into the hearts and minds of Australians, not simply for enduring the trauma she did, but for becoming a courageous and unwavering anti-family violence advocate in spite of it.
No time to read? Listen to Georgie, Monique Bowley and Jamila Rizvi discuss the year on Mamamia OutLoud:
She was articulate, educated and determined: her beloved son Luke’s death was not to be in vain. Domestic violence was not to be ignored.
In the aftermath of the grief that befell her she was resolute; about speaking out about domestic violence, about demanding systemic changes, about seeking reforms to the courts system and about asking for leadership, compassion and understanding from all Australians about this complex and insidious scourge.
Rosie Batty was not the first Australian woman to lose a loved one at the hands of domestic violence nor was she the last. But she was the first Australian woman who managed to put domestic violence firmly on the national agenda because of it.
Her voice resonated. Her calls for action were heard. The excruciating truth in her observation that “Prior to Luke’s death no-one wanted to hear my story of living with violence. Now everyone does” made us stop.
Rosie’s fierce and unwavering advocacy for ending domestic violence earned her the Australian of the Year honour. Her fierce and unwavering advocacy, combined with the platform that national honour entails, ensured the national interest in DV wasn’t fleeting.
She is the reason that 2015 was the year Australia started taking family violence seriously. The year that, finally, some of the things that those who work on the DV frontline have been wanting for decades, started to happen.
A team of researchers worked with Destroy the Joint to maintain a count of all the women killed violently in Australia in 2015. The mainstream media began reporting these numbers as a matter of course and media outlets, big and small, began campaigning for change.
Fairfax, News Limited, The Monthly and the ABC, were among the media players that invested heavily in consistent, sensitive and comprehensive reporting on this issue.
Q & A dedicated two entire episodes to family violence this year. Sarah Ferguson spent six months on the front line of DV – in refuges, in prisons, in courts, with police – making Hitting Home.
Large companies including Telstra, Ikea, Virgin, NAB and McDonald’s, introduced domestic violence leave for employees and business leaders began regularly engaging in the subject.