Australian of the Year recognised at young Tassie awards
It's been a whirlwind of a year for activist and advocate for survivors of child sexual assault, Grace Tame.
After being named Tasmanian Australian of the Year in 2020, Grace became the first Tasmanian to be awarded Australian of the Year in early 2021.
Her passionate speech while accepting the prestigious award was the catalyst for a long-overdue national conversation about sexual abuse and misconduct. It’s a story that has sent shockwaves through our streets, homes and workplaces, and caused a stir in the halls of parliament house.
Despite her new national profile, Grace said her focus remains unchanged.
'It has changed my life in a lot of ways, but not the real goals and not the real centre of my life. My life has and always will revolve around the people that I love. I'm still the same little old me. I still go to Woollies in my PJs!’
'But it has elevated the platform on which I was standing as an advocate for fellow survivors of child sexual abuse, and that's an incredible thing,’ Grace said.
Grace's courage and achievements have now been recognised again through the Spirit Super Create Change Award at the 2021 Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards in May.
Established in 1989, the Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards celebrate the achievements of young Tasmanians across a diverse range of fields and encourage them to continue pursuing their goals.
This year's awards recognised outstanding achievements in tourism, small business, hospitality, and the disabilities sector. It also celebrated the best of our young community volunteers and leaders.
For Grace, the win acknowledges her courageous journey from silenced survivor of child sexual abuse to one of Australia's most influential and outspoken advocates for social change.
Born in Bellerive, Grace was groomed and sexually assaulted at age fifteen by her 58-year-old maths teacher. Ten years later, Grace joined the #LetHerSpeak campaign to challenge the injustice of Tasmania's gag order preventing survivors from self-identifying publicly.
The campaign attracted global support from celebrities including Alyssa Milano, Tara Moss and John Cleese, and leaders of the MeToo movement.
In 2019, Grace was the first female sexual assault survivor in Tasmania to win a court order to speak about her experience. By April 2021, the law finally changed to allow all Tasmanian sexual assault survivors to speak out and tell their stories.
Grace said receiving local recognition and support for her cause has been very special.
'I think Tasmania cops a lot of flak nationally for being little and for being a separate island. But Tasmania has been the leader in this cause. It was Tasmania who embraced my story and the #letherspeak campaign. It was accountable for its past failings in terms of the legislation, and it drove this shift. It shows that it doesn't matter how small the community is. If it’s united and if it's determined and relentless, it holds no bounds. It’s testament to the power of community.’
Now 26, Grace is focused on encouraging survivors of sexual assault to share their stories without shame. She hopes that these previously unheard stories can be used to create education strategies to better protect young people from the psychological manipulation that underpin sex crimes.
'Psychological manipulation is the bulk of what has the lasting effects on survivors. But it's also what allows these cultures to persist. Predators capitalise on our confusion. So, that's a huge piece, educating around that issue.’
She also hopes to continue pushing for legislative reform across the nation to better deal with issues of sexual assault.
'Once we have a better understanding of these things through reformed education, we can properly legislate,’ Grace said. ’One of my big goals is to get uniformity in terms of legislation. So, that's getting a uniform definition of consent, of what it means to be a child, of sexual intercourse and sexual assault itself. Those are big calls that I'm making directly to the state governments.’
But while Grace continues pushing for change on a state and national level, she believes we all have the power to create positive change at home.
’The only person protected through inaction and silence is the perpetrator. So, we need to use our voices. It could be as simple as telling someone trusted — a friend or colleague. If you use your voice when you see injustice, you could potentially save countless lives and prevent further injustice from happening. That is the value of your voice.’
A full list of the 2021 Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards is below:
- 2021 Premier's Young Achiever of the Year - Kaytlyn Johnson
- Spirit Super Create Change Award – Grace Tame
- Dental South First Nations People Achievement Award – Bianca Templar
- Heather & Christopher Chong Community Service & Volunteering Award — Lara Emmett
- Motors Tasmania Sports Award — Liam Johnston
- First National Real Estate Leadership Award – Kaytlyn Johnson
- Qoin Small Business Achiever Award — BeaDoughs Donutsof Emu Heights
- LukesHealth Healthier Communities Award – Raw Strength Tasmania
- TADPAC Print Service to the Disability Sector Award — Jessica Benge
- Spirit of Tasmania Tourism and Hospitality Award — Holly Bowden
- Colony 47 Transition to Work Award — Bryce Taylor
For more information about these fantastic young Tasmanians, go to Awards Australia.