Australian of the Year Grace Tame’s call-to-action
There were few who were unmoved by the experiences of Grace Tame and her call-to-action at Wesley College’s staff day in July.
Grace’s experience was deeply harrowing and bravely shared; she was abused by a teacher at her school in Tasmania from the age of 15, and though she is still deeply affected by the trauma to this day, she has used her experiences to advocate for survivors of sexual assault at a national level.
Grace’s actions have resulted in legal reforms, raised public awareness of a range of issues and inspired courage in many others, and for this she was recognised as Australian of the Year in 2021.
‘While it may be hard and uncomfortable to talk about these topics, it is critical. Talking about it, listening, learning is the key to building the strength to overpower all manner of evil and makes us collectively resilient,’ Grace told teachers and staff.
Grace’s speech was a salient reminder of the importance of child safety, and reaffirmed Wesley’s commitment to creating such an environment. ‘Our unsanitised history is our greatest asset,’ Grace said. ‘Own it, air it, transcend it.’ Accepting and owning her past has been a successful strategy she has used to move forward. Learning from the lived experiences of herself and others has helped her bring what was once a taboo subject to the forefront of the national conversation.
Her goal is to have institutions and government commit to a national definition of terms such as grooming, blackmailing and gaslighting and inspire individuals to talk, listen, research, rally and never settle for anything less than real structural change.
While we may feel sometimes that our individual actions make little difference, Grace is a firm believer that each small splash adds to the wave. ‘One of my unflinching beliefs is that every single voice counts. Every student you teach counts.’ The wave of change is here and we’re part of it.