I think I would have liked Luke Batty.
He had chutzpah. He had cheek. He lived up the road a bit and did similar things after-school as my brood.
I would have liked Luke Batty – a lemon juggling, banana eating larrikin who loved to post you-tube snippets and joke with his mum. His family of course know him as so much more. The tragedy is – there will be no more.
Luke Batty has been laid to rest here on the Mornington Peninsula, and it is beyond belief that we have come to know this boy only after his death.
A month ago this week Luke Batty was killed in Tyabb.
By his father. Sadly. Tragically. Brutally. Incomprehensibly. We held our hands collectively to our mouths.
Debate swirled – mental health, domestic violence, flawed systems and support mechanisms. In the midst of the outrage and horror we heard a voice. Luke Batty’s mother Rosie spoke.
Words of grief, grace and compassion. Words that made us pause and re-assess.
Words that reminded us that we, none of us, are immune to violence.
As parents and as a community, we want to think our children are safe, spared from aggression and unspeakable acts.
Rosie Batty wanted to think that too, but after a life of challenge with her estranged husband Greg Anderson she was cautious.
This tragedy has again flicked a naked lightbulb on the harrowing dilemmas of mental health, domestic violence and the criminal justice system which has needed critical attention for some time now.
This is a system which clearly has flaws. A system which has possibly denied Rosie Batty the opportunity to be watching her son at his cricket practice today.
These entrenched flaws clearly need rescuing and addressing. Forthright conversation needs to continue as honest questions and debate play out in the public eye. And we the public must continue to demand this of our leaders and decision makers.
We wait with sadness for the judicial outcomes of this tragic case.
Still more gaps are to be examined and systems recommended through the Coroner’s Court Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths in order to bring about change in the future.
There is a groundswell of grief here on the Mornington Peninsula.
Luke Batty’s death has prompted many to take further action in the spirit of community. In the spirit of wanting to make change happen, of seeking reassurances as a small town heals and rebuilds itself after such a devastating blow.
We all would have liked Luke Batty, and some had the honour already of being associated with him.
So many of the mother’s I talk to whisper that they think of Rose Batty and her loss as they go about their everyday tasks.
The making of the lunches, the folding of the washing, the searching for lost readers.
For me it’s the quiet bed time ritual with my own son which breaks me. When I sneak in to kiss my his head each night I am kissing him for Rose. Because she cannot smell the sweat, sand and sleep of Luke. This is an uneasy sense of security I have. I have my child. Safe. Innocent. Unharmed. Alive.
The mundanity of motherhood has been taken from Rose Batty, but she will always be a mother.
And when Rose Batty is ready to talk again, may we all be listening and help lift her thoughts up high.
For she is the good that has come of this…she is the calm and shattered voice who will cut through the debate and rhetoric.
We need to listen to how Rosie Batty processes this grief, how her journey brought her to this fateful place, and how the system needs changing.
This will be the legacy of Luke Batty.
Since this post Rosie Batty has founded the Luke Batty Foundation.
You may also like to visit the website for the 24/7 Family Violence Response Centre, Safe Steps.
There are services and support systems our community is urged to contact:
SAFE STEPS Tel 1800 015 188
LIFELINE COUNSELLING SERVICE Tel 131114
THE NATIONAL ASSAULT HOTLINE Tel 1800 737 732
EMERGENCY SERVICES Tel 000.
There are other blogs which touched me deeply on this subject. You may also like to read the wise and beautiful words of The Hoopla’s Wendy Harmer and Juanita Phillips