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The "Rosie Batty effect" and the framing of family violence in Australian news media
journal contributionposted on 2018-11-18, 00:00 authored by Erin HawleyErin Hawley, Katrina CliffordKatrina Clifford, C Konkes
When 11-year-old Australian boy Luke Batty was murdered by his father, his mother Rosie Batty used her authority as a high-profile victim to orchestrate a sustained and nationwide campaign to address family violence. Her efforts informed public and political debate as well as policy change at state and federal levels in Australia. This study examines news coverage of the Luke Batty case over a 20-month period following Luke’s murder on 12 February 2014. It traces the “framing” of family violence within Australian media (particularly in relation to gender and attributions of responsibility) over this period and as Rosie Batty increasingly rose to prominence as a family violence campaigner. Our findings suggest that the discursive tensions around whether family violence is “a gender issue” played a crucial role in shifting the debate towards an emphasis on the responsibility of the perpetrators of such violence, which in turn helped to reframe family violence as a national problem rather than a private matter that happens behind closed doors to nameless, mostly female, victims.