The shocking circumstances surrounding the recent and tragic death of 11 year-old Luke Batty has touched the hearts of most Australians and put a spotlight on the issue of Family Violence.
Luke was brutally stabbed to death by his father, Greg Anderson, at a cricket field after cricket training on 12 February, 2014 in front of several horrified on-lookers including Luke’s mother, Rosie Batty. Mr Anderson was then shot to death by police officers at the scene.
It has since come to light that Luke’s father was known to police and there were several warrants out for his arrest regarding alleged breaches of an Apprehended Family Violence Order. Luke’s parents were separated from each other and there was no doubt regarding issues concerning parenting arrangements for Luke.
In a very moving and humble statement Ms Batty stated “Family violence happens to everybody no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are, it happens to anyone and everyone”.
This sad incident has made all of us, including the authorities, question how we as a society deal with family violence which is an issue that is all too prevalent. In recent years the federal government has made attempts to address the problem and in July 2012 changes were made to the definition of ‘family violence‘ in the Family Law Act, 1975 which broadened the definition of family violence and what constitutes family violence in terms of family law matters.
Ms Batty summed up the situation neatly in her public statement:-
“Unfortunately the behaviour isn’t always bad enough for the police to be able to intervene and that’s the fact of the matter, you have to endure it, because unfortunately there’s nothing much people can do and its about you and your journey with that person… people all tried to help. Unfortunately the very help that they need to be giving is to the person who’s doing this, and they are the ones choosing not to be helped”.
It does beg to consider the effectiveness of the current procedures and protections, to question what else can be done to protect those subjected to family violence.