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Rosie Batty discusses the summit on family violence -

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HAYDEN COOPER, PRESENTER: Rosie Batty is the former Australian of the Year and anti-violence advocate whose own son was murdered by her former partner in 2014. She was at today's meeting and I spoke to her in Brisbane.

Thanks for joining us tonight.


HAYDEN COOPER: Well, the Prime Minister said today that he believes there has been a cultural shift in this area. Do you agree?

ROSIE BATTY: Look, I think there's been a conversation that's started and I think that has led to a lot of cultural awareness. But I think we have a long way to go.

But we are at least, you know, seeing some change. And I think that gives me a lot of hope and inspiration, actually, because I do travel around Australia a lot and I do feel myself that there is an awareness that's being raised and a genuine conversation that hasn't happened before.

But you know, as a cultural change, we've still got a long way to go.

HAYDEN COOPER: That's right. I guess the actual change is the hard part. We've all heard that horrendous statistic of one in three women who've experienced physical violence. Have you seen any sign yet that that statistic, that figure is improving?

ROSIE BATTY: Look, it's going to be a heck of a long time before we start to see changes to our statistics turn around.

What we're experiencing right now is heightened awareness. We're starting to see the problem where we didn't see it before. We're starting to actually understand what it looks like. We're starting to understand and hear messages about ringing the police or calling 1800-RESPECT for help and support.

So we're starting to have an awareness raised, but that's going to create additional strain on our existing services and it's going to take time for those statistics to actually start to change. And we need to be prepared for that.

HAYDEN COOPER: Right. And along those lines, I read somewhere today that, in fact, every time people talk about their own personal experience in this area, more and more people call for help. Is that correct?

ROSIE BATTY: Yes, absolutely. And when we understand that so many more people are actually living with this problem and not able or not willing, because of fears, of concerns, or can't speak out: so there's a lot of people who we still don't know are, you know, caught up in this problem.

HAYDEN COOPER: Now, to the detail: the Government, as we've heard, announced today the carve-up of $100 million. It included $30 million for front-line legal services.

I've heard you say many times before that one of the first things that a woman needs when they've been assaulted or are a victim of violence is legal help. And yet this announcement today comes in a climate of the Government cutting back funding on community legal centres. Does the announcement today make any difference?

ROSIE BATTY: Look, I think it's welcome. I think that money and that funding will definitely be appreciated and be put to very valuable work.

But we're already talking of a really seriously underfunded service: seriously underfunded. And when you see: if you visit a country area - and I've recently been in Broken Hill - if you see the degree of work that happens on the smell of an oily rag, with perhaps, in some instances, one lawyer covering a whole area: you know, there isn't any more cutbacks that can be made, other than actually obliterating a whole service.

So really, it is incredibly important. And it does concern and frustrate me because, you know, it goes hand-in-hand: you know, whether it's looking at taking out protection orders and intervention orders, to keep yourself safe, or family law advice. You know, it's incredibly important and it is an essential step.

HAYDEN COOPER: And a similar thing has happened in the area of homelessness: a crucial area when a woman needs to flee a violent partner in the middle of the night - and again, an area which the Government has been cutting funding in. Is that correct?

ROSIE BATTY: Look, I can't comment particularly on homelessness.

I do understand that in our Victorian Government we've actually really acknowledged that, you know, one of the barriers for women being able to leave is actually the threat of homelessness. And not only that: it's actually very, very difficult to have affordable rental accommodation.

So currently a lot of women who need to go to a refuge because there isn't enough beds or accommodation: currently they're placed in motels, which cannot be cost-effective and it certainly isn't safe or ideal.

HAYDEN COOPER: Did you have any success today in your campaign for reform to the Family Court and in particular, the practice of perpetrators of being allowed to cross-examine victims?

ROSIE BATTY: I think, you know, the round-table discussion I was involved with was in relation to family law reform. And certainly there were some very key people there who were magistrates and working in that area of the judicial response.

And I think it was really evident that we were all very clear on some of those changes and we were able to make those points to everyone and I know they were notified.

HAYDEN COOPER: Is there any will from government to make a change?

ROSIE BATTY: I think there is the will and I think there is the will within a lot of the ministers.

I think we need to get this put into action with the Attorney-General's Department, who has obviously the key responsibility. They know this problem: they're absolutely clear.

It's really about needing to really see some action in this issue. I really, you know, feel that this is one very small but very significant change.

There are many others that need to be implemented, but I feel that this will be a really good first step, particularly from the Attorney-General's Department, to actually acknowledge this has to stop and there are solutions and we just need to make it happen.

HAYDEN COOPER: Now, Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor, Tony Abbott, did elevate this issue to one of great importance in government and it was a very early priority of Mr Turnbull. Do you feel that he has lived up to the promise?

ROSIE BATTY: I think we need to keep a lot of pressure onto our Federal Government. I think there are obviously other challenges that take their priorit- to take their time.

But you know, I think what really was disturbing to me is how readily the issue of the plebiscite was put on the agenda and $180 million found for that type of initiative. And when you're talking of the struggles to find any funding for legal systemic reform, I find that an incredulous: very confronting.

HAYDEN COOPER: OK. Rosie Batty, thank you for all the work you've done in this area and thanks for joining us tonight.

Thank you, Hayden.

HAYDEN COOPER: And, as Rosie Batty mentioned: if you're experiencing domestic or family violence, there is a national helpline 24 hours a day.

Just call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).