One of the incredible women working to make the world a better, more equal place, fight sexual abuse and give a voice to victims is 26-year-old Grace Tame - a total inspiration and global game-changer. A passionate advocate for change, a scholarship student, and a talented runner, Tame grew up in Tasmania, and has also lived overseas and studied in America, becoming an artist with some high profile clients.
Survival and strength
At just 15 years old, Tasmania resident Grace Tame was groomed and abused by her 58-year-old teacher. When she reported him, he was arrested for "maintaining a sexual relationship with someone under the age of 17." Yes, you read that right: a “relationship”.
Tame argued that this Tasmanian law needed to be renamed. This was not a relationship: this was abuse.
Tame’s attacker was convicted for both sexual assault and for possessing child pornography. But rather than put an end to the chapter, for Tame, it was just the beginning of her journey to change the world for survivors of sexual abuse.
Grace took her situation and spun it into strength.
Changing the world
A gag order, a part of Tasmania's archaic Evidence Act law, had meant that no matter how much she wanted to, Grace could not speak out about her abuse - even while her attacker could brag about his crimes on TV and social media.
But Tame was not going to be silenced.
"For me it's just a no-brainer... it's terrifying to do
something in the face of evil, but what's more
terrifying is not doing something."
Teaming up with sexual assault survivor advocate Nina Funnell, Grace created the influential #LetHerSpeak campaign in partnership with Marque Lawyers and End Rape on Campus Australia. The goal was to overturn this Tasmanian law, alongsidea similar law in the Northern Territory, both of which clearly resulted in the unjust side effect of gagging survivors of abuse.
Celebrities around the world joined the cause, with Alyssa Milano, John Cleese and Tara Moss all lending their voices to the movement.
The campaign allowed her to speak out for the first time on her ordeal, by winning an exemption from the law from the Supreme Court of Tasmania. It made her the first ever female sexual assault survivor in Tasmania to win the right to speak about her experience.
She would make sure she wasn’t the last.
Thanks to #LetHerSpeak, a few months later, in April 2020, the law was officially amended, allowing sexual abuse survivors to speak publicly about their cases. The legal wording would also be changed, with the court agreeing that the world “relationship” incorrectly implied consent.
Australian of The Year
Grace has gone on to use her experience as fuel to continue to change the world, as an activist for sexual abuse survivors and to help raise awareness of grooming and manipulation tactics.
She is an advocate for education to prevent child sexual abuse before it has the chance to happen, has leant her expertise to help the Los Angeles Human Trafficking Squad, and works tirelessly to put an end to victim-blaming, so that women feel safe and supported to speak out. She is also a survivor of anorexia, and advocates for more understanding, treatment and awareness of the illness.
As such a dedicated and game-changing activist, perhaps it’s not a surprise that Tame was named Tasmanian Australian of the Year 2021. Then, on the eve of Australia Day 2021, she was also named Australian of the Year, making her the first ever Tasmanian recipient of the award, and the first recipient who is a public survivor of sexual assault. Tame said on receiving the accolade, "All survivors of child sexual abuse, this is for us.”
Check out her incredible speech below.
“When we share, we heal. Together we can end child sexual abuse. I remember him saying, 'Don't make a sound.' Well, hear me now, using my voice amongst a chorus of voices that will not be silenced,” she continued.
Grace has shown that with great trauma can come great strength, and influential empowerment to make things better for women everywhere. She won’t ever be silenced - and shows that your voice is more powerful than you could ever imagine.