12 months ago Australia gave Rosie Batty its highest honour.
12 months ago Australia gave Rosie Batty its highest honour. Warren Lynam

LETTER: Thank you Rosie, for your brave legacy

THANK YOU Rosie Batty. Thank you for being a hero.

Barely 24 hours after your former partner killed your beautiful son in February of 2014, you bravely faced a throng of reporters to talk about your soul-destroying loss and the silent epidemic that has been ravaging women's lives since time began.

Australians from all walks of life watched in amazement as you - a single mum whose beloved only child Luke was the light of her life - spoke gently and strongly about the heartache of domestic violence and of paying the ultimate price for having loved a heartless man.

And 12 months ago, our nation repaid your bravery by awarding you this country's highest honour - Australian of the Year.

In accepting that title, you started the conversation we had to have about the terrifying epidemic that claimed the lives of 78 innocent women last year.

In that moment you became the trusted voice of victims and survivors - many of whom now fervently believe their lives will one day be free of tyranny and fear.

Your dedication, passion, humour and compassion gave thousands upon thousands of women and children a reason to hope that the thugs who subject them to physical, emotional, sexual and financial torment can, and will, be held to account.

Rosie, your accomplishments over the past year have been nothing short of amazing.

You criss-crossed the country, speaking at 250 conferences before a collective audience of 70,000.

Each time you stepped in front of a microphone you relived your own trauma so the rest of us could start thinking about how we can change this country's gender narrative so all women can live without fear.

Your Never Alone campaign empowered women, it gave victims a voice and it will continue to work to hold perpetrators to account.

And your book, A Mother's Story, opened many eyes to the tragic price domestic violence takes.

Thanks to you Rosie, workers at the frontline of family abuse are feeling the pressure, as more and more victims find the strength they need to seek help.

And, Rosie, the staff at organisations like Queensland's DVConnect and Domestic Violence NSW wouldn't have it any other way.

"Rosie Batty … is nothing short of remarkable and inspiring," DVConnect CEO Di Mangan says.

"Rosie's contribution to the national discussion about domestic and family violence has seen it transition from a private matter to very much a public matter."

"Now that it is acceptably a public matter the world of the perpetrator is becoming a less secretive place."

Ms Mangan's NSW counterpart Moo Baulch agrees.

"Things can never go back to where they were pre-Rosie," the DVNSW CEO says.

"She has given a voice to the sector, to activists, advocates and survivors."

2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty. Supplied by ABC TV. Please credit photo to Belinda Pratten.
2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty. Supplied by ABC TV. Photo by Belinda Pratten. Belinda Pratten

Rosie, a few years ago journalists turned to academics and politicians when they needed an authoritative voice on domestic violence.

But now they turn to you because your message resonates with their readers.

"Rosie Batty is an incredible woman," renowned feminist writer Clementine Ford wrote recently.

"And the sad thing is; her experience is not incredible or unusual."

And Mamamia founder Mia Freedman says: "Our world is a much better place for having Rosie Batty in it."

Rosie, you spent many hours lobbying hundreds of community, political and business leaders about the need for more support services - especially housing and legal and material aid.

And that lobbying paid off as state and federal governments committed at least $200 million to the war on terror at home.

"She has decreased the stigma of domestic violence, taking it from a private, rarely spoken about topic, to an issue commanding public attention and resources," NSW Premier Mike Baird says.

"She has challenged our views on who victims are, and to move on from asking the question 'Why doesn't she leave?' to 'Why is he violent?'."

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says you inspire her, Rosie.

"To show such courage given everything she has been through is truly extraordinary," she says.

"It is because of Rosie and women like her that we now have an ongoing national conversation on domestic and family violence."

So Rosie, Australians of the Year will come.

And they will go.

But very few will forge a legacy like yours.

And those of us who have been touched by domestic, family and intimate partner abuse thank you for that.

For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or Men's Line on 1800 600 636, NSW's Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).