news

When a woman calls for help, we must listen. For Luke Batty, we must.

It was a hot summer afternoon and Rosie’s eleven year old son, Luke, was playing in the cricket nets with his father, Greg Anderson.

Without warning and with Rosie waiting nearby, Anderson beat Luke with a bat and stabbed him to death with a knife. Anderson was later shot dead by police.

Today, Coroner Ian Gray said that Greg Anderson was “solely responsible” for the death of his son, Luke Batty.

It seems like an understated and perhaps obvious finding from a Coronial inquiry that has gone on for almost a year.

Rosie and Luke Batty.

The Coroner called Luke’s death a “tragic loss of a young life full of promise”. But after sifting through thousands of pages of evidence, Ian Gray said, “no-one could have predicted Anderson would kill his son”:

“I conclude, based on the comprehensive evidence in this case, that Luke’s death was not reasonably foreseeable by any entity or person, including Ms Batty,” said Ian Gray.

Despite identifying “gaps or flaws” in the family violence system, Gray said, “I find that none of the actions of the organisations or persons whose conduct has been analysed either singularly or in combination caused or directly contributed to Luke’s death.”

In short, the Coroner Gray was saying: no one will be held accountable for the death of Luke Batty.

Since her son’s death, Rosie Batty has been a tireless campaigner for domestic violence awareness.

It may be that, legally, no one can be held accountable for Luke’s death.

But there is something that must come out of this nightmare.

When Rosie Batty gave her evidence to the Coroner, she said that no one ever tried to stop Anderson, and that when she asked for help, she was offered counselling rather than protection.

“I wanted support. I wanted other people to step in to make some decisions so it wasn’t just me facing Greg… The only suggestion they have is to have counselling,” she told the court.

“No one spoke to Greg. If he stopped being violent, I wouldn’t need counselling.”

Rosie and Luke.

At the time of Luke’s death, Anderson was facing eleven criminal charges and there were two apprehended violence orders out against him. But police officers who visited Anderson in the weeks before Luke’s death did not have access to that information. They did nothing.

On the day that Luke died, Rosie said she considered calling police when Anderson turned up at the cricket oval but decided against it, because previous attempts to have him arrested had proved fruitless.

ADVERTISEMENT
domestic violence
Last week, Rosie joined Minister for Women Michaelia Cash and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce a new domestic violence funding package. Image via Twitter.

Rosie Batty had called out for help. Time and time again. And that help never came.

So while the Coroner found today that Anderson was the only person responsible for Luke’s death, our understanding should not stop there.

When a woman calls out for help, we need to listen.

The response can’t be: We’re too busy. Or we don’t have enough information. Or he’s probably not a threat. Or he’s probably more of a danger to himself. How about some counselling?

The loss of Luke Batty reminds us that as much as we don’t like to think about it, nightmarish things do happen. No one wants to believe that anyone is capable of such cruelty. But as much as we don’t want to believe it, these outcomes are possible, even likely. The death of four women in the last week alone showed us that.

When a woman calls out, we need to say: We hear you. We hear you and we will act to make sure that you and your children are safe.

The Coroner said that no one person or agency is responsible for a child’s death. And that’s true – because unless we answer that call for help, we are ALL responsible.

What do you think about the findings? 

00:00 / ???