As Rosie Batty’s term as Australian of the Year comes to an end, I would briefly like to reflect on the impact and possible lessons we could learn from her experience and advocacy.
Like most people, the first time I saw Rosie Batty on television was in an interview shortly after Luke’s death. That interview had a profound effect. It wasn’t filled with anger, hatred or blame. Instead it was filled with sadness, compassion and understanding; including towards Luke’s father. That she could have been anyone’s mum, daughter or friend, made me suddenly realize that this sort of domestic violence could happen to anyone.
Each time I saw Rosie on television I thought that in a better world we would never have known her. As Australian of the Year, each one of us would have gained their own insights and inspiration from Rosie’s experience. Mine, mundane as it is, is that we should all make an effort to ensure we never put anyone in Rosie Batty’s position again.
Throughout the reporting a few key things stood out for me. The incident was not random and the justice and welfare systems had sufficient interventions to identify the problem. Further, Luke’s father had a number of active arrest warrants and intervention orders. The police even had the opportunity to arrest and detain him, but did not do so because of problems with the police database.
Problems with the Victorian police database go back a number of years. In 2005, the director of Police Integrity, George Brouwer, called for the database to be replaced and that cost should not be a deterrent. Assistant Commissioner Kieran Walshe at time did not agree and did not consider it a priority. Successive Victorian governments have history of problems in public sector IT services includeing CenITex, LEAP, MYKI and Ultranet to name a few.
Large computer systems are not hard or impossible by their nature. What makes these projects hard are greed and fanatical desires for efficiency. What I’ve learnt from Rosie Batty is that things that ensure the safety and welfare of our children run deep, and each of us can make a difference at every level of society. To make a better world we could begin with a duty of care when developing IT systems, get that right and the balance sheet will look after itself.