Image of Rosie Batty
Recording date:

Hear 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, as she reveals the grief, passion and purpose uncovered in her heartfelt memoir, A Mother's Story

Author talk

A Mother’s Story by Rosie Batty

National Library of Australia

Speaker/s: Cathy Pilgrim, Emma Macdonald, Rosie Batty

 

CATHY PILGRIM: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the National Library of Australia, I'm Cathy Pilgrim, Assistant Director General of the Executive and Public Programs Division here at the National Library. As we begin I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, I thank their elders past and present for caring for this land we are now privileged to call home.

I’m delighted that you’ve joined us this evening to hear author and 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty. Australians have come to know Rosie as a result of tragic events and heartbreak which would have felled most of us. Today Rosie’s turning her personal tragedy into an opportunity to make a difference and her name has become synonymous with the words courage and resilience. Following the death of her beautiful boy, Luke, at the hands of his father Rosie has now established the Luke Batty Foundation and launched the Never Alone campaign asking all Australians to stand with her to make sure that every woman and child at risk of family violence are never alone.

Through the campaigning of Rosie and many others who raise awareness and seek change to the systems and processes that are unfunded and overburdened we are seeing our leaders starting to take notice. The announcement by the Prime Minister yesterday of a $100m domestic violence package will go some way towards addressing the serious issue of family violence in Australia.

Rosie is also a founding member of the Council of Australian Government’s advisory panel for preventing violence against women. She is the recipient of the Pride of Australia’s National Courage medal and this year was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll for Women. She’s also an Ambassador for Our Watch and the Lort Smith Animal Hospital and Patron of Doncare Community Services. Tonight Rosie will share her remarkable story of resilience, courage and inspiration with Emma Macdonald. Emma is the Canberra Times education editor and also writes on social issues and women’s affairs. Emma is cofounder of Canberra charity Send Hope Not Flowers which raises funds and awareness around maternal mortality across the developed world. After a short video please welcome to the stage Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and Emma Macdonald.

Applause – Video plays

“Almost incomprehensible horror, Luke’s father, Greg, attacked his son with a bat and a knife.

No one loved Luke more than Greg, his father. No one loved Luke more than me.

Family violence happens to everybody, no matter how nice your house is, how talented you are, it happens to anyone and everyone.

Rosie Batty’s here with us this morning as I know is talking about ...

He says he was inspired by Rosie Batty’s ...

The message has been so strong ...

... make a difference.

.. very quickly I am an advocate, I’m the voice of family violence.

I think that’s the thing, isn’t it, you know? I’ve got nothing to lose and nothing more to be frightened about.

So I’m in a position to be able to utilise and reach and really truly understanding that unless you are affected by family violence people don’t know how much of a problem it is.

Family violence may happen behind closed doors but it needs to be brought out from these shadows and into broad daylight. One in four children and at least one woman a week is killed. As the Australian of The Year I am committed to building greater campaigns to educate and challenge community attitudes. I am on a path to expose family violence and to ensure that victims receive the respect, support and safety that they deserve.”

Video ends

EMMA MACDONALD:    Thank you all for coming tonight. It’s been a news week for women and for the issue of violence in Australia but tonight we’re really going to focus on Rosie Batty’s book, A Mother’s Story. I can’t commend it highly enough, I read it this week. There were ... there were tears, there was laughter, you’ve got a wicked sense of humour, Rosie, especially when you woke up in the nudist colony that day and you went topless as a gesture, I loved that bit. But ...

ROSIE BATTY:     ... wouldn’t even do that now.

EMMA MACDONALD:    .. one of my overriding emotions was of rage against the system so we’re going to talk about that. It’s an incredible achievement to have a book out, to have it published, to have it written. Can you tell us a little bit about who thought of it, how did you even you know it’s a mountain to write a book. How on earth did you do it? Tell us all little bit about the process.

ROSIE BATTY:     Well I didn’t write the book myself, I have had a wonderful person called Bryce Corbett ... not Bryce Courtney but ... he’s dead. We did get his name confused last night.

EMMA MACDONALD:    I always do.

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah. So Bryce made contact with me on behalf of the Women’s Weekly ‘cause he works there as an editor there and he’d made contact with me about featuring a story about myself and Luke. And he was incredibly sensitive and respectful and we really struck up an immediate friendship and someone I felt very you know I could trust, he understood how fragile my journey was and the Women’s Weekly were incredibly I think supportive and yes, it was really in the quite early days and ... also at that early time I received a lot of letters, a lot of letters, a lot of poems, flowers, gifts, incredible, incredible gifts, beautiful letters and it was really difficult to keep on top of reading them all. And in fact I think there were big piles that in time I eventually took the time to read and they were from all over in Australia, men, women, old, young and one of the letters was from Harper Collins about you know if I was interest ... would be interested that they would like to hear from me and the letter was really respectful and ... and I wasn’t really quite sure what I thought and I just kept the letter.

And then I was in Sydney in August last year and I met up with Bryce with the Women’s Weekly and he said let me go in you know let’s go to talk to Harper Collins together and as you know he’ll look out for me and we did and on the way there I said well I couldn’t write the book myself about myself, I know I can’t. As much as I am a reasonable writer I just didn’t feel I would be able to write about myself and certainly emotionally it’d be too much pressure to try to work on that. So I said to him you wouldn’t want to write it for me, would you? With me? And he said oh actually I might and I suddenly thought he would be the perfect person. So when we met with Harper Collins I did say to them look, I'm not sure how I feel about doing this but it was really important for me that it was perhaps something that people could learn from, that it could be used as an example of ... for people to study or people to get better insight into, a topic that many people don’t understand. And so it was really within ... with that in mind that it really ... that was the driving force to make a difference, again with Luke’s story and his tragic death, to make a difference.

EMMA MACDONALD:    How long did the core getting it out? Because it goes into tremendous detail, it’s pretty forensically researched, it has diary entries, it has letters and notes, I mean it is a huge work of research.

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah, it is and look, actually you know last year exactly this time I was going through Luke’s coronial inquest and there had to be you know forensic investigation into Luke’s death. I have folders and folders and folders and folders and folders of information for Luke’s inquest and so for Bryce and I to unpack a lot of that research was far more ea ... far easier than it would otherwise have been and also over the previous year you know I did a really intensive interview with Four Corners and I had other you know things that really helped Bryce put things together without demanding as much from me as he would otherwise have had to. So I think that that was incredibly helpful. Clearly a lot of work for Bryce to go through to have it substantiated, to be you know make sure it’s completely correct and again Sharon Death who’s the person that was ... has been closely with me since Luke’s death and was my right hand and everything during Luke’s inquest you know it was very careful in looking through the book to make sure that the dates and this and that all picked together because for me it was like I don’t want to go there again, you know? It’s too hard for me to work out what date was it that I had that intervention order and that one and this one and that one, incredibly confusing, it was incredibly confusing at the time, confused the crap out of everybody ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    That’s why it’s so great there’s a chrono ... there’s actually a chronology, there were so many formal proceedings that you attempted to ... there’s a chronology of dates and times and when Rosie went to court and what she said and who she spoke to which is a pretty indictment on the system but we’ll get to that. Was it cathartic? Did it feel good to have it kind of out of you and in the book form?

ROSIE BATTY:     I think since Luke’s death I have done a lot of really intense interviews that I’ve spoken with really great journalists and I’ve had many opportunities to dig deep and that I think has been cathartic on some level, I really do. And I think with the book sharing some parts of it with Bryce was funny but some of it I you know I was just ... I was done, I was done and he had to you know we really quite ... tried to just keep pushing through, what did you think? What did you feel? Oh I don’t know, I just ... up you know I don’t know how I felt, I can’t remember so you know it really showed me how important it is to trust and get on with the person who’s helping you write it because they really you know they’re writing it with you, they’re pushing you for information that you have got tired of giving. You are yourself incredibly ... I was incredibly pushed for time. I did say to Bryce what the hell are we going to do if I happen to win Australian of The Year? You know well when are we going to have time to write it? So it was incredibly intense for the first ... yeah, I think we started writing it particularly in April ... gosh, I can’t even remember now. No well ... no, we had some s ... I can’t remember, Easter time Bryce came and spent some time at my place and we did a lot then. As I said there was a lot of information already ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    On the public record.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... got together, there was you know the days we spent from dawn ‘til dusk, me lying there relaxing as he’s thumping away on the computer and I came up to Brisbane and again I spent a few days up here with him and his lovely family. So it was really Bryce that put in an incredible amount of hours and you know Harper Collins, Bryce, everyone respected that I indeed was really, really stretched and we knew that if we didn’t stick to the timeframe it would never get done so we just ... Bryce was equally as committed into sticking to the timeframes we’d agreed with Harper Collins and then you know again you have the draft that comes back, you read it again you know a whole weekend spent reading your book and so I’m really proud, I'm really proud. It never occurred to me until ... I think it was last night when I was talking in Brisbane with Bryce in conversation and somebody said was it deliberate that you chose a man to write your book? And it never occurred to me, it genuinely had never occurred to me. I’ve spoken to many male journalists ... have been fantastic ... and Bryce was the right person so it wasn’t accidental ... I mean it was completely accidental but how wonderful that yeah but I ... in hindsight I look back and think you know Bryce has written an incredibly ... a very great reflection of my story clearly but in my ... the way I think, the way I feel, it is a token you know it is a combination of our work and he’s an incredibly sensitive, gifted man and it’s great that he’s been able to do it in such a sensitive way.

EMMA MACDONALD:    He’s ... I know Bryce and he is obviously very talented because this book is totally in your voice, not for a minute does it sound like someone’s interpreting your emotions, it’s from the guts straight to the reader’s guts. Was there any point when you first started on this journey that you had to give yourself a talking to and say it’s either all or nothing? Because the detail and the personal insights, there is nothing you’ve held back and for some ...

ROSIE BATTY:     There is, there are some things, I’m not that s ... I’m not that stupid. Gee.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Well you give a lot of yourself in the book ...

ROSIE BATTY:     That’s the book two.

EMMA MACDONALD:    The uncensored version.

ROSIE BATTY:     The uncensored virg ... version. Sorry. It’s been a long day.

EMMA MACDONALD:    That’s what I mean about the sense of humour, in the darkest hours the sense of humour shines through which is just lovely. I thought that there were parts of the book which revealed very personal vulnerabilities you know feelings of inadequacy, intimate details that I thought must have been very hard for you to do but you were very deliberate in saying I am putting it all out ... it’s you know I’m not going to go half-hearted into this book ...

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah, I think ... I mean I’ve always been an open and honest person. If ... anyone that will have ever known me since I was ... forever will tell you that I’m an open and honest person. I think that’s mostly worked for me as far as I know and what I have found is that by being able to be open and honest yourself it allows and enables other people to be open with you and I think you know you literally feel what have I got to hide? And there are things still that you clearly wouldn’t disclose in certain ways but I think if you’re going to have a reflection of who you are you’ve got to be prepared to ... for it to be ... I'm completely open and vulnerable and I have to say that you know when the fir ... the first person I met that had read the book was a you know a journalist and I said oh what did you think? Because again you are vulnerable, you’re very vulnerable and I personally don’t care how many books I sell, I just want people to feel that it’s a really good book. And I you know I also know that a lot of my friends will buy the book or I will give them the book and it’ll be a long time before they can read it.

EMMA MACDONALD:    I don’t know honestly know that I would have wanted to read it had I not known that I was going to have to do this, it’s ... it is a really ... and, Rosie, you said it was a hard book to write and it’s a hard book to read and you acknowledge that you know it takes ...

ROSIE BATTY:     Well it’s the second book my dad’s ever read in his life. He’s ploughing through the pages right now, ploughing through them and I know that because last night in Brisbane this woman came to me and she said hi, it’s Chris, da, da, da, da and I’m thinking ... and she’s you know Chris, da, da, da, da and I’m thinking I’m struggling here. And it was ... my favourite schoolteacher who was teaching me when my mother died when I was six and I used to sneak into the classroom when all the kids were supposed to be playing outside and she would find me curled up in the library corner reading. And so she actually is now my neighbour, the neighbour that lives beside my parents, they’ve been friends for many years so it was her daughter in Brisbane last night that came to see me and she said ... I said your mother’s in my book and your brother and she said yeah but you didn’t put a name in. I’m like sorry. So yeah, there’s ... it’s quite funny actually you know I’ve lived in Australia for more than half my life and the connections and particularly on my journey now where I’m bouncing around interstate doing different things, amazing the connections from people overseas and back in England, it’s great.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Now one of the things that I found most incredible about reading the book and one of the reasons why I’m glad I did is that when I heard the news reports I though Greg Anderson was so far beneath my contempt that I wasn’t ... he was subhuman and I wasn’t going to think about him anymore but when I read your book you are ... and I don’t know how you do it but you are so sensitive to the fact that he was going through a mental health crisis, you chronicle how it all seemed very subtle at first and then the flags started to wave a little more and I think that’s one of the most important things, is that domestic violence doesn’t just all blow up in your face one day, although that can happen, you just ... you’re dehumanised a little bit and a little bit and the voices aren’t loud enough at that particular time to send you flying out the door and all of a sudden you realise you’re invested in a relationship and it’s a strange relationship but I think that was one of the most interesting and important webs that were woven, was that I understand a little bit more about Greg and how you ...

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah, we ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    ... came together.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... really cared for him and you know I know he cared for me and what started off as an attraction and you know ... you know and I cared for him and I cared for him when things went wrong in his life and I cared for him and you know to my maybe detriment I was too forgiving and ... but it’s really hard to see someone that you’ve known for a long time and see the gradu ... the decline and the person that they were once and see where they end up and you try to help in varying ways and then that gets turned against you or used against you or leaves you in a vulnerable position and then you start to have to be more and more clear with your boundaries and more and more deliberate with you know making sure that you keep them at arm’s length and it’s really hard you know because you know that the pain that they’re in and you know that the disappointment they feel and you know Greg wanted Luke and I to be part of a fam ... his family. He didn’t realise and recognise that his behaviour was the reason we couldn’t have that and so you know as much as you care for someone you end up having to build up barriers and barriers and barriers until there is a complete wall and unfortunately that’s you know one of the reasons why it happened.

So I think it is really easy to dehumanise somebody and think that they are a totally bad person but that’s not how I view life, it’s not how I view people. I’ve never thought of people in that way and so I haven’t wanted people to think of Lu ... Greg in that way too because what would that make me if I had you know why would I have gone into a relationship with someone that I didn’t like or ... so it is a journey and then it is really unfortunate that my involvement with him you know I can’t say ... then there’s a piece I wrote in the book where the me that never was which was really something I wrote, I was really proud of that, actually ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    It’s beautiful.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... and you can’t say ... you can’t ever regret and you can’t wish something that never was because I wouldn’t have had Luke. So you know ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    And Luke loved his dad.

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah, I mean he was a good dad.

EMMA MACDONALD:    And he was a good dad for some of the time.

ROSIE BATTY:     Oh he was ... he loved ... he adored Luke and they had a very close connection. But you know unfortunately he was also abusive and violent and a bully and that ... when he couldn’t get his own way that is what came out and you know that was something I had to tolerate in varying ways because you know it’s really difficult for people to understand that you know you can’t always involve the police in every little dispute. And when you do there isn’t a lot that they can do so hopefully that gives people an insight that it’s not clear-cut, it’s not easy ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    No. Black and white.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... and it’s really, really difficult.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Do you want to read out a passage just about when Luke’s born and how happy you are and how Greg is so it just ... it starts there and it just goes to there, just about the comedy of errors and what you’re doing.

ROSIE BATTY:     I’ll see if ... don’t fall asleep. Our first weeks together were a comedy of errors. Like all new mums I was feeling as I went, was I supposed to bathe him every day? Was once a day sufficient? I kept thinking I was going to drown him. And what about feeding? How often and how much? We fumbled along together finding a rhythm. It was actually quite good because he ... he was three weeks early and had a little bit of jaundice, we slept so much. We fumbled along to her finding a rhythm. It was June in Victoria so bitterly cold at night, I would snuggle up with him in my bed, exhausted but very happy. I had never been more fulfilled in my whole life. He was a little human being. He was completely dependent on me and I thrived on it. I did. My parents came over to visit from England and their excitement over the phone had been palpable and I couldn’t wait for them to meet Luke. I had been home a few days when Greg returned from the monastery, he was over the moon, he was so gentle and nurturing with Luke. There was a kind of well in his eyes as he nursed him, this great hulk of a man was reduced to jelly by the slightest smirk or facial tic of his newborn son. I remember thinking whatever Greg was, whatever problems he had dealing with life in the adult world, he clearly had the capacity for unconditional love, here was a man with his son and it looked for all the world like he would do anything to protect him from harm. Yeah. Gee, it was hard writing that book.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Yeah.

Applause

EMMA MACDONALD:    But that’s not the Greg that ... that was not the Greg that was going to continue in your life and things very, very quickly ... only a few weeks after Luke’s birth did he show you a side that you were very concerned about and that started a series of events where you realised that you needed to put you and Luke first and you struggled so hard to include Greg in ...

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah, I did.

EMMA MACDONALD:    ... Luke’s upbringing and I think anyone who reads the book, if we’re not already amazed by your resilience and strength, we’re also amazed by your common decency and kindness because not many women would have gone through what you went through. When you read the book I’d say probably a third of it chronicles ... probably even more ... chronicles Rosie’s formal process in trying to take back your life, put some distance between you and Greg and just live a happy life and give Luke the best childhood that you could give. I guess one of the biggest emotional reactions I had to the book was just the rage that ... and you’d have to read it and I hope that you do ... that Rosie went to court more times ... I can’t ... I mean I only just read it this week and I can’t remember ...

ROSIE BATTY:     I can’t remember how many times, I never did count them all up, it was like a revolving door.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Yeah. And the process was incredibly frustrating and Greg would get more unpredictable and would mess with your mind, do little things just to throw you off your guard and the mental toll was enormous. Do you ... I just had another bit about sort of the formal process in court. Do you want to read it or ..?

ROSIE BATTY:     I don’t know, how much is it?

EMMA MACDONALD:    It’s not ... it’s ... from just this part, the bit about the authorities were involved now and just ... just to there. Just about your trust in the court system.

ROSIE BATTY:     The authorities were involved now, I told myself, the courts, child protection, they have this situation in hand, all I needed to do was continue to do everything by the book, follow their advice and trust in their processes and everything would be okay. A week or so later the Family Violence Service sent Luke to a counsellor, the psychologist gave Luke something to play with to distract him and began asking him questions about how he felt when he saw his father attacking his mother. By all accounts Luke was a model patient, speaking openly about Greg’s assault and referring without any real sign of distress to multiple other examples of his father’s extreme behaviour. If the psychologist had probed longer and deeper, and he did see Luke two or three times, he might have concluded that a 10 year old for whom violent religious-themed outbursts from his father were so commonplace they barely raised an eyebrow was a child who needed some careful attention. But he didn’t.

EMMA MACDONALD:    There’s also a scene that ... I didn’t sleep much this week ‘cause I was reading the book and had to you know had to get through it but there’s a scene where Rosie’s in court with a new judge, back to square one, she’s got to explain you know that she’s in fear for her life, that her son’s life is possibly in danger, that this man is unpredictable and he’s clever and he knows you know he knows how to cause maximum grief without actually getting arrested. And there’s a bit ... there’s a bit where you just really lose your patience and you think no, I’ve really had enough and you storm out of the court and the bit that I felt just so upset was that the prosecutor followed you out and told you to pull yourself together when you were literally ... you were so terrified and your fear is so palpable in this book and the prosecutor says pull yourself together otherwise I’ll have to get a mental health team to assess you, the implication being are you a fit mother to raise your son? And that’s when I ... I wanted to throw the book out the window and onto the road. That was hard, that was ...

ROSIE BATTY:     So I basically told her to get stuffed.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Yeah, again, again and again ...

ROSIE BATTY:     And not very politely. And I didn’t get carted away, I think I reali .. I just basically said you know what? I have every reason to be upset and angry, I have every reason to be upset and angry. If you give me 15 minutes I’ll be fine. Yeah.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Yeah, you said that, yeah. You also said that friends sort of ... before things got really, really difficult you said that friends ... that it was hard to turn to them for assistance because they didn’t understand that you were doing what you could to distance yourself but the court system was stacked ...

ROSIE BATTY:     It’s really hard to support somebody in this kind of situation and you know your family ... well my family are all in the UK so I hadn’t got anyone close, my friends really concerned and cared you know over the years but in the end you know Greg was always this pain in the arse that you’d just go oh God, can you believe what he’s done now? It just became normal that he was a ... the thorn in my side that would sabotage something to just get a reaction from me, it could be deciding not to bring Luke back and making me fetch him which meant that the Sunday lunch or barbeque with my friends would ... I would have to leave. Just things that seem you know minor to other people maybe but just knowing how to sabotage ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    Undermine you.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... and work with how to upset me. And you know I used to recognise that and quite often I’d just play him at his own game and ... but every now and again he would just do it at the time when I couldn’t cope. So my friends you know they all ... ev ... I think everyone thinks that the police can solve everything, I think everyone thinks if you call triple 0 automatically somehow by a miracle everything gets sorted. Well it just doesn’t and you know the police do a really good job in many occasions and the courts are overburdened and again there are limitations of what they can do too. So ultimately where everybody kept thinking I wasn’t doing enough, I should have done differently, I should have done this, I should have done that, you stop talking to them because you feel that you’re somehow being blamed and you feel like you’re being criticised and judged because if they were in your position they would be doing something quite different.

EMMA MACDONALD:    They’d walk out the door and never look back. Where are they walking to?

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah, well I was ... didn’t have anywhere to you know I ... Greg never lived with me, I never married Greg so you know the violence doesn’t always stop and can very often be more dangerous when you choose to leave. So you know it was really unfortunate that ... at the time that Luke got murdered was the time I was potentially the strongest I’d ever been emotionally and had finally cut every tie with Greg and his ... he ha ... his manipulation and control had no ... had no effect on me anymore and sadly he had also got other ... was you know I think he felt he ... things were closing in on him, he had other cases to answer to and you know for me I just wanted him to have a day in court, it never actually happened, ever actually ... in all of that time ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    With 11 charges ...

ROSIE BATTY:     ... did he ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    .. and four warrants for his arrest.

ROSIE BATTY:     .. you know because you know the things always get adjourned and you know it’s ... it really is a ludicrous, ludicrous ... so ultimately sadly I was in England five weeks bef ... for five weeks before we came back. We’d only ... Luke and I had been back for less than two weeks, I think, and so I didn’t know the lay of the land, what had been happening. I didn’t know until Luke’s death other things that were charged so he was spiralling and he was suicidal and the way that you know that systems and work are largely in silos and so it’s really difficult for those organisations and those individual people to see red flags, to understand how to intervene when really you can stop fatalities or you can stop damage and danger and things happening but we don’t operate like that, a lot of the time we operate when there’s evidence or some harm has been committed and we’re still as a society ... and we still ha ... you know really only viewing violence when it seems to be physical. We still underestimate that you know one of the reasons a lot of women can’t leave is because of financial abuse, how you know to send your you know to put yourself in poverty or homelessness is a real, real reason why it’s very difficult to leave.

And also that psychological abuse is incredibly dangerous and in my experience, and I think in others’, it is every bit as dangerous and possibly more so than the physical abuse. So we have all long way to go before we understand all of this and I hope that the book helps to display to people that this isn’t an issue that just affects a certain group of people that are removed from us, it affected me and I certainly didn’t have a childhood where there was any violence. I certainly didn’t even recognise or know I was in a violent relationship in the earlier stages and I think when I finally did have counselling I you know started to recognise from the information they gave me that it wasn’t because I nagged or I was ... it was my fault or it was because of me personally and my failings that had caused Greg to act like that, I you know I can’t believe now that is exactly what I believed. So it is a journey of rediscovering yourself, rebuilding yourself, finding yourself again. And it’s so you know that’s ... it’s sad because that is exactly where I was at, determined that I had the strength to continue to fight with Greg, to say you are not able to see Luke. I’d spent all of Luke’s life terrified about standing up to him and saying you can’t see Luke, I was terrified. He told me he’d kill me when he you know years earlier if I ever stopped him. I just kept thinking I will do what I feel is right and in the end I had fears that Luke wasn’t safe and I stopped right then and he never had access to Luke again on his own.

I truly believed having that compromise by being ... him being allowed to be at cricket or football was far away better than some supervised access visit in some grotty halfway house place, that in fact he could continue to you know see Luke in that kind of environment which he always did and enjoyed doing. Yeah you know you just felt ... I felt I was being fair, reasonable and broke my heart, broke my heart having to put that wedge but I had to be really strong to do it and you know so it ... ultimately you do the best you possibly can and so does everybody, they go to work doing the best they possibly can but it’s really ... my journey through the coronial inquest, I learnt that there were ... I did do the best I could. So as confronting as it is ... it was to go through the inquest, it helped me enormously. The day that Luke was killed and the two ... the homicide squad came and were with me, I can remember Alan Birch saying to me Rosie, this was a premeditated act, you could have done nothing about it. And I thought to myself can you think ... remember Lindy Chamberlain? My God, we put the poor woman in prison and you know because she didn’t conform to what we thought was reasonable victim behaviour, we couldn’t believe it was possible for a dingo to murder her you know take her baby, the police made the evidence fit and it was all you know and I just thought to go through a trauma like that, like I'm you know went through with Luke and then be blamed, what a tough woman she must be because that’s absolutely destroying. And then to be put in prison for it.

So I think you know for me, being told from the beginning that it wasn’t my fault stayed with me, to go through the coronial inquest in absolute finite detail, every bloomin’ thing, everything, I heard and read every statement from the police, everything and for me to completely understand with my team that I really did do everything I could and I was really determined that you know I don’t blame people. Nearly everybody including me would do it different but we have to learn how we can do it better, have to learn how we can do better. There is so much we have to do better and that’s what I’m about and that’s what you know I'm not on my own, there’s a lot of people also equally as passionate, knowing that we have to do it better. And the journey of a victim so far is unacceptable ...

Applause

ROSIE BATTY:     ... and you know what I have learnt since Luke’s death is I was experiencing the same journey as every other victim involving the system. I just thought it was me banging my head up against a wall, not understanding ... I had no idea like everyone else. You think okay, this is what I’m going to do now, everyone’s telling me what I do, I will do it now and then they go oh my god, I didn’t know it was going to be like this. And I said to people right from the beginning when I’m ready I’ll do it but when I’m on that train I’m on my own. You’re on your own. At the end of the day people aren’t with you 24/7 and their support is incredible and the support from people you know obviously since Luke’s death has been fantastic. The support before Luke’s death was testing you know it was testing. And not intentionally by people, just you don’t understand the complexities yourself and then to feel blamed and critiqued you know it ended a five-year relationship with me ... me and my previous partner, David, because I was being critiqued by David and having to cope with Greg and then have a moody child, you just go really? You know really? I’m doing good here. So it’s character-building and that’s a fact.

EMMA MACDONALD:    I think the book clearly shows that you did ... you did everything, you did everything you could and you’re a fantastic mum, an absolutely loving fantastic mum. Just one, perhaps one final question, you say that you don’t blame the police. I did notice, just my journalist and I, you did name quite a few people that you had dealings with. Is that to let the public be the judge of ..?

ROSIE BATTY:     Look, I tossed and turned actually, I left it to other people to decide whether it was appropriate for those names to be left in there. I probably would have been more comfortable to take them out. I didn’t ... I really haven’t since Luke’s death wanted to be blaming and vindictive and angry, I’ve really ... wasn’t and I think that also was really noticed by people because I felt that there is nothing to be gained. There is nothing to be gained so yeah, I’m not sure that I’m really comfortable in some of the names that are in there. Sharon Deth who I trusted totally you know I thought if it’s fair, okay. Yeah but you know that’s like part of me goes oh how will they feel? You know because again they didn’t do their job wrong. Well actually I don’t ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    They sort of did.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... believe ... I don’t believe they did except it’s been you know like little bit of complacency, arrogant decisions, not consulting you, not believing you, making judgements when you’re ill-informed and actually don’t even really have the training in family violence and risks.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Or administrative delays in paperwork ...

ROSIE BATTY:     Oh that was a bloody computer system. God, that was appalling. But you know to his credit the Prime ... the Police Commissioner in Victoria was on my doorstep within two days of being .. Luke being murdered saying what did we do wrong, Rosie? You know? Wanting to learn you know somebody who’s in charge at that level can look you in the eye, not try to ... not try to deflect blame you know that’s what a lot of those institutions could learn from. If we could get that response from our judicial people we would change. So what happens with a lot of those other organisations, they go into damage control, lawyers get involved and it’s you know it’s damage control and that’s all they’re interested in. What we do have to do is look beyond that and say no one’s to blame but how can we keep getting better? And we need to get better by you know isn’t that what a coronial inquest is? Isn’t that the point of them? So it will be interesting ‘cause on Monday I’ve been ... I’ve now been told Luke’s coronial findings will be announced and so that’s another big day for me. I really don’t know how it’s going to go, I have no idea but I have been told it is going to be quite an intensive findings from Judge Grey. So I guess that will be interesting, whether what we felt and presented were wrong, systemically wrong, whether he will agree and what those recommendations will end up being. So ... so yeah, it will be a point of closure for me as well, I’m sure, although for me I feel it’s not really a criminal trial because you know Luke’s dead, Greg’s dead so there’s nothing I can really change. So ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    Except that maybe if the findings suggest that it ... in my eyes, and I didn’t live it but I could see glaring issues that needed to be addressed so ...

ROSIE BATTY:     I think that ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    ... somebody is going to stand up and say okay, well we need to change.

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah, we’ve got the ... in Victoria we’ve got the Royal Commission happening which is really intensive and I think that will have you know some really good recommendations. I was really encouraged, I hope most of you were aware of the announcement by the Prime Minister yesterday. I think that was a really key turning point. There’s a lot of us who were really quite emotional. Yes, we could argue that it’s not enough money and yes, we could argue that it’s ... this ... people aren’t getting that and these people are getting this and we can carry on like that and absolutely true but what I really appreciated was the Prime Minister acknowledged this is a gender issue and he was really articulate in how he really got this issue and calling it you know very unAustralian etc. And one of the sayings he said ... I have to kind of think about this ‘cause I really liked it ... he said not all men showing women disrespect will end in ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    Violence.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... violence but all violence starts with disrespect. I don’t know, did he come up with that?

EMMA MACDONALD:    Yeah.

ROSIE BATTY:     Shows great promise, I ... so I just felt you know a lot of us did, it’s kind of like wow, we’re starting to have some shiftings here, you know? I think ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    I think Chris Brown’s about to get ...

ROSIE BATTY:     Shifted out, yeah.

EMMA MACDONALD:    ... booted out of the country which would be good.

ROSIE BATTY:     Yes. Well apparently somebody was telling me earlier today that the lyrics of his songs are absolutely ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    Hideous, yeah.

ROSIE BATTY:     ... appalling. I'm old and I have no idea what he sings, who he is.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Rosie, I think we’re going to have some questions from the audience so I’m going to finish off with one final question, who do you want to read your book?

ROSIE BATTY:     Oh look I you know it’s funny, isn’t it? ‘Cause I think who the hell ... who will read the book but anyway people are reading it. I think clearly a lot of victims will want to read the book, people who have experienced violence should I say. Probably just that reassurance that they ... experiences are not unique and somehow I think that gives some kind of comfort. I hope ... I hope men read the book, I hope men read the book, buy one for your men. Badger them until they read it. I reckon if my father can read it, the second book in his life, I think the other one was A Dicky Bird or what’s that? Was it A Dicky Bird? What’s the ... Dicky Bird? But I think it’s ... somebody was saying to me today they would like to see it read by every ... was it you?

EMMA MACDONALD:    Everyone in Year 12 onwards, mandatory reading. I think ...

ROSIE BATTY:     Yeah. So I think that’s great, I mean I love reading, it’s been something that’s always been a passion for me. I read mostly nonfiction, I love reading about people, I love reading about spirituality, I love reading about philosophy. I found you know I would be the one ... if it wasn’t me ... buying the book and reading it because that would be really interesting to me, to understand and you know I’ve always been really drawn to understand people who make such a difference in life for other people like you know the Nelson Mandelas of the world and you know just amazing people. You wonder what it is about them that made them so great and you learn from that somehow. So I hope that people learn something from that but I you know what I do want to make sure is that people realise it’s you know through the darkest of times when you think nothing could be any worse than this how the hell can I ever establish a life again or a ... you think you would be unable to function. I want people to realise that it is a difficult journey but by really having purpose and meaning in that journey it really helps you live. And not just survive. I still laugh and I did from the beginning because I’ve got friends that are very inappropriate ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    Wicked.

ROSIE BATTY:     Wicked and plain wrong and I’ve got lovely people that care for me so I'm able to still enjoy a few glasses of red wine.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Thank God for red wine.

ROSIE BATTY:     I ... what else? You know food, theatre, the things I always enjoyed. I now go oh, I still enjoy them because initially I thought how on earth do you ever enjoy anything again? Not only has he taken my son he’s taken my life? Step by step, step by step and I do feel that most definitely with being able to tell my story, feel that it’s making a difference, to be respected, I ... wherever I go, I can be at Hastings foreshore walking my dogs, I can be in a supermarket, I can be at ... even in Darwin at the airport, I think good God, how do you know me here? So it’s ... always surprises me how I get so recognised ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    Yeah, supermarket shopping must be a bit of a nightmare, you’d be stopped every ...

ROSIE BATTY:     I’m hardly in it, I hardly go there these days.

EMMA MACDONALD:    Maybe online.

ROSIE BATTY:     I buy frozen food and stick it in my freezer. But I ... I’m hardly home but I you know what it is is people are so lovely to me, they are so lovely and to have people every day saying really lovely things and really supportive messages, it keeps me energised, it keeps me energised, it really means everything. So you know the Mark Lathams of the world I don’t read very often ...

EMMA MACDONALD:    Nobody ever did.

ROSIE BATTY:     So ... and when I do I thought oh this is ridiculous so ... and I get very much more support with other people who on my behalf recognise how inappropriate those kind of articles are and it gives us all an opportunity again to I think address this issue, why would someone write those kind of things? That’s not reflective of the vast majority of us and most definitely not the men that I know so I think you know I look ahead next year and I look at some really important things that I’ve been invited to, that I’m going to do and I’m looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to next year really putting into place and really you know raising awareness is important but really making some things actually happen and take shape and that’s what I’ll be doing next year so I’m really looking forward to it, mm. I can’t bring Luke back but ...

Applause

End of recording