SEXUAL assault survivor and advocate Grace Tame has been named the 2021 Australian of the Year.
The 26-year-old was honoured for her fight to overturn a law which prevented sexual assault survivors from speaking about their ordeal.
Ms Tame was just 15-years-old when she was groomed and raped by her then 58-year-old teacher at a private girls’ school in Hobart.
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Her abuser was convicted and jailed for his crimes but Ms Tame was gagged from speaking publicly about her ordeal under Tasmanian law.
But Ms Tame refused to be silence and took her fight all the way to the Supreme Court, becoming the hidden face of the #LetHerSpeak campaign which challenge the gag laws.
She eventually won and has since become an advocate for other survivors of child abuse.
Congratulations to your 2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame! #ausoftheyear #reflectrespectcelebrate Thanks to our Australian of the Year category partner, Australia Post
Ms Tame became emotional when accepting the award.
“All survivors of child sexual abuse, this is for us,” she said.
“I lost my virginity to a paedophile,” she said.
“I was 15, anorexic. He was 58, he was my teacher.
“Publicly he described his crimes as “awesome” and “enviable”. Publicly I was silenced by law. Not anymore.”
She said Australia had come a long way but there was still a lot more to do.
“When we share we heal,” she said.
“Yes, discussion of child sexual abuse is uncomfortable but nothing is more uncomfortable than the abuse itself.
“So let us redirect this discomfort to where it belongs, at the feet of perpetrators of these crimes.”
Ms Tame was one of four women honoured with the big awards of the evening..
22-year-old Isobel Marshall was named Young Australian of the Year for her charity work tackling period poverty.
At 18 she established the charity TABOO, a brand of ethically sourced organic pads and tampons, which are sent to countries like Sierra Leone and Uganda, as well as crisis centres in Australia.
Renowned Aboriginal educator, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann was named Senior Australian of the Year.
The 69-year-old was honoured for her career as an educator and activist.
Rosemary Kariuki, a Kenyan refugee who became a multicultural liaison officer, was named Australia’s Local Hero for 2021.
Ms Kariuki specialises in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.
The gang's all here! What a night to celebrate our amazing Aussies. We needed that! Thank you for tuning into our 61st Australia of the Year Awards.