Her son Luke Batty died from head injuries inflicted by his father in an attack at Tyabb cricket oval on February 12th.
This morning the TEN show had a panel discussion about a new Victorian law announced yesterday. New laws make it a crime not to disclose a case of child sex abuse, with a maximum penalty of three years prison.
During a panel discussion, Hildebrand said that women who stayed in abusive relationships had no excuse for not reporting abuse against children.
“Obviously you can’t help but feel a huge amount of sympathy for anyone who’s in an abusive relationship but … you have to get out, you absolutely have to get out. There are huge economic costs associated with that, yes there are often other things, but anything is better than staying in an abusive relationship. Frankly, to say that you’re going to not report a case of child abuse or child sex abuse by your partner because you are scared for your own safety, I’m sorry, it is not an excuse,” he said.
But in a later interview, a distraught Rosie Batty blasted him for moving the focus onto women and not male perpetrators.
Panel Discussion / Rosie Batty interview:
“Joe, your comments are so, so misguided,” she said. “If you minimise how it feels to feel unsafe, and when we’re talking about unsafe, we’re talking about the risk to our lives, we’re talking about when women finally may decide to leave their partners they have the most risks.
“I am absolutely outraged. I was living in hope that because of Luke’s tragic death it would bring a huge awareness to family violence. This is beyond my comprehension how, again, the woman who is the victim is punished.
“Do you know what happened to me?” she asked. “Greg had finally lost control of me and the final act of control, which was the most hideous form of violence, was to kill my son. So don’t you ever think that if we don’t report it’s because we don’t want to. It’s because we are so scared about what might happen.
“Joe needs to look at his views as a man and he needs to step up and get informed. Because when I hear comments like that I am so saddened that the focus is still on the woman. Where the hell is the perpetrator? Why isn’t he being jailed for three years?”
When Sarah Harris tried to clarify the comments, Ms. Batty did not let up.
“I don’t care, Joe needs to look at his views as a man and step up and get informed,” she insisted.
During a 10 minute interview, Ita Buttrose and Jessica Rowe managed to widen the conversation to the issues rather than the more immediate passion, and found a positive end point in which Ms. Batty had a chance to talk about fund-raising efforts and the issues raised by new laws.
“I guess from my perspective when I sat here earlier, I really didn’t like the way the panel spoke about that situation. I still feel there is so much education to go for men and women about what I am now experiencing,” she said.
“But my fundraising, we had a huge day on Sunday and people’s understanding and comfort have made a huge difference to me.”
Statement from Joe Hildebrand:
“My comments today about proposed laws attempting to enforce the reporting of child sex abuse have been misrepresented and misunderstood.
For the record I do not support the jailing of domestic violence victims who fail to report child sex abuse, and never said that I did. On the contrary, I said I thought it was extremely unlikely it would ever happen and that under the proposed reforms women in fear for their safety were exempt.
My comments were in no way directed to or about Rosie Batty, who was scheduled to appear on the show for a separate segment about a fundraiser for her late son Luke. I am certainly very sorry for any distress they caused her.
To suggest that I support the jailing of women in these circumstances is completely wrong. In the initial segment I stated that I did not think anyone in that situation should or would be jailed. In the discussion that followed with Rosie Batty, I stated again that there was in fact a specific exemption for people who failed to report child sex abuse because they felt their safety was threatened.
There also appears to be some suggestion I said it was easy for women to leave abusive relationships, which again is simply not true. What I said was that it is vital that women do leave abusive relationships.
I also said the safety of a child must be paramount in considering these issues. If a child is being sexually abused then I strongly feel it is the responsibility of all those who are aware of it to report it. I also said that to allow a child to be continually exposed to sexual abuse is, frankly, inexcusable. I stand by this completely.
The main point that I repeatedly made was that tougher reporting requirements would hopefully act as a circuit breaker and point of contact to help liberate women and children from abusive relationships.
The paramount concern for me – and I suspect most people – is and must be the protection of children. We cannot allow a child to be exposed to abuse if it is in our power to stop it.”