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Rosie Batty urges media to help prevent family violence

June 03 2015 By Hannah Grant, Media Relations Officer, Our Watch

Australian of the Year and Our Watch Ambassador Rosie Batty will today deliver a rallying cry to the Australian media, urging them to use their influence to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin family violence.

Our Watch Awards logo. Image

Ms Batty – who will use her National Press Club address today to launch the Our Watch Awards to recognise and encourage exemplary reporting to end violence against women – says journalists are “uniquely placed to help stop violence before it starts”. 

Speaking in depth for the first time about her own experience with the media after her estranged partner murdered her son, Luke, Ms Batty said it had been “largely positive”.

“The day Luke was murdered I crashed in my bedroom and woke the next day to people discussing that there was media outside, and I should be protected from them.

“I was initially going to tell them to go away, but quickly realised the opportunity I had to name family violence, highlight its prevalence and tell the nation that something must be done.

“And I was very open with journalists, so they didn’t try to fill in gaps in the story, which meant a platform of mutual respect was established from the outset. This has made a huge difference in my journey with the media.”

However, she said not all her experiences were positive, nor were the experiences of other survivors: “For me, the coronial inquest and the horrifying victim blaming that it brought to the fore, really enabled me to see victim blaming for what it was: a misguided and damaging narrative that ultimately lets perpetrators off the hook.

“We have work to do if we are going to tackle the attitudes and beliefs that give rise to this violence. ‘Why didn’t she take her children out of such a violent situation?’, ‘she was wearing headphones’, or ‘she was drunk and out late on her own’ are just some of the assertions that blame survivors for the violence inflicted upon them. And we must do more to help women currently in crisis.”

Ms Batty highlighted figures from Our Watch’s media monitoring service Meltwater, indicating only 8% of articles mentioning domestic violence have included references to 1800RESPECT since the start of the year. “I challenge every single media outlet to include links to services such as 1800RESPECT so that women know where to get help.

“The media is uniquely placed to give the issue of a violence a platform, encourage a more informed understanding of family violence, and bring about real change. 

“Violence against women is now out of the shadows and into the spotlight. So today, I’m urging the Australian media to join me in preventing violence against women and their children. Help the Australian public continue to join the national conversation. Together, we can stop violence before it starts.” 

Ms Batty will be joined at the National Press Club by a group of survivors of violence, who represent the 1 in 6 women affected by intimate partner violence, the 1 in 5 women affected by sexual assault, as well as other family members who have been impacted by it. 

The national media awards scheme being launched by Ms Batty has been developed by Our Watch – a not for profit established to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin and create violence against women and children – as part of its National Media Engagement (NME) Project. They will be administered by the Walkley Foundation.

The Our Watch Awards build on the excellent work of Domestic Violence Victoria and others in Victoria whose collaborative efforts created the Eliminating Violence Against Women Media Awards (EVAs). 

Our Watch CEO Paul Linossier said that improved media reporting could deepen the understanding of what drives violence - and what it takes to prevent it. 

“While the extent and ramifications of men’s violence against women and their children is getting more coverage than ever before, significant challenges remain in the way we tell this important story,” Mr Linossier said.

 “The inaugural Our Watch Awards will reward and recognise excellence in journalism that contributes to a deeper understanding of violence against women, its causes and prevention.”  

Our Watch received funding from the Commonwealth Department of Social Services to develop and implement the NME Project. It is an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022

"Shining a light on journalism that effects change in Australia and the world has always been part of the Walkley Foundation’s mission,” Walkley Foundation CEO Jacqueline Park said.
“Violence against women is a critical issue for our time and the Walkleys are proud to support Our Watch through helping benchmark excellence in reporting on it."

 For more information about the Awards and how to enter visit The Walkley Foundation website. Entries close July 8, with winners announced at a ceremony in September. Find out more about Our Watch and resources for journalists

Media contact

For enquiries or further information: Hannah Grant, Our Watch, mobile 0448 844 930, email Hannah.Grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”

About Our Watch 

Our Watch’s (previously the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children) purpose is to raise awareness and engage the community in action to prevent violence against women and their children.
Our Watch was conceived of and brought into existence in 2013 by the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Victoria. The Northern Territory, South Australian and Tasmanian governments have also since become members of the organisation.
Our Watch’s work derives from the government’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and gives expression to many of the activities in the Second Action Plan 2013–2016 – Moving Ahead.