POLITICS

Rosie Batty Says Men Who Have Never Hit Women Can Still Be Dangerous

Change begins at home.

15/06/2016 12:30 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
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Rosie Batty was thrust into the spotlight when her son, Luke, was killed by her ex-partner at cricket training.

During the election most people who take the stage at the National Press Club use the opportunity to bring the issue they campaign for, well, into the campaign -- demanding election promises and commitment from the major parties.

But on Wednesday, domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty used the opportunity to address all men instead of just politicians.

She did this before even speaking, sharing the stage with Men's Behaviour Change counsellor Danny Blay.

Batty brought domestic violence into the national discourse two years ago when she addressed the media outside her home after her son, Luke, had been murdered by her ex-partner at cricket training.

And on Wednesday -- with Blay -- she discussed the importance of changing this discourse, and the national perception of the domestic violence perpetrator as a man with a clenched fist standing over a woman.

"I was never hit as such but Greg was capable of murder," Batty told the room in Canberra.

"I would go as far as to say men capable of psychological abuse and power and control and intimidation are potentially the most dangerous."

Blay also said groups denying women made up the overwhelming number of victims were doing men a disservice.

"If the broader men's movement is serious about engaging effectively with men, supporting men, providing opportunities for men... then it's a much gentler conversation and we need to be challenging those standard forms of masculinity," Blay said.

"It is a much trickier exercise to invite men into a space that challenges their own world view, challenges the culture they've grown up in and what defines them as a human being based on their gender."

The pair said funding needs to target changing the cultural attitudes and beliefs, which also lies in men's behaviour change programs.

Urging for more funding for specialist responses to family violence in family law, Batty released a poll showing more than 70 percent of the public were in support of her five step plan with Women's Legal Services to help victims of family violence. You can read all about it (and sign up) here.

"Next week I have invited the leaders of each political party to accept a petition from extremely concerned Australians demanding the family law system is overhauled and justice for kids is prioritised. Almost 20,000 Australians have signed the petition already," Batty said.

State Governments have overtaken the Federal Government in responding to this message, with New South Wales, ACT and Victoria all announcing funding for men's behaviour change programs.

While Victoria this year pledged $572 million to address the scourge of family violence, Labor Leader Bill Shorten has so far announced $88 million to build a new Safe Housing program over two years to help women escape safely.

The Coalition has promised $30 million for family violence legal centres while the New South Wales government announced $300 million to tackle the problem, putting GPS detectors on perpetrators and investing $8 million in men's behaviour change programs.

The ACT Government, while investing $1 million in a men's behaviour change program, has also introduced a domestic violence tax charging the citizens of the state a $30 annual levy.

As Batty and Blay urged men to become engaged in the debate, and for funding to address men in the national problem -- which Batty likened to national security -- they said putting children before parents was vital.

"This debate should be above politics. It's about putting the safety, well-being and essential needs of children above all else. It is about keeping our kids safe from violence and terror," Batty said.

"What could be more important?"

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