Grace Tame (born 28 December 1994) is an Australian activist and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Tame was named 2021 Australian of the Year on 25 January 2021.

Grace Tame
Born (1994-12-28) 28 December 1994 (age 28)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
EducationSt Michael's Collegiate School
Alma materSanta Barbara City College
Occupation(s)Artist and yoga teacher
Known forSexual assault survivor advocacy
Spouse(s)Spencer Breslin
(m. 2017; div. ?)
Partner(s)Max Heerey (2020–present; engaged)
Parents
Awards
  • Tasmanian Australian of the Year (2020)
  • Australian of the Year (2021)

Early life Edit

Tame was born in Hobart in 1994.[2] Her father is former Tasmanian cricketer Michael Tame.[1]

Abuse and aftermath Edit

Tame was a dual-scholarship holder at St Michael's Collegiate girls' school in Hobart, and had been diagnosed with anorexia in Year 10.[3][4][5][6] At age 15 she was groomed and then repeatedly sexually abused by her 58-year-old teacher, Nicolaas Bester.[7] Although the school was found to have had multiple opportunities to intervene, the abuse did not stop until 2011, when Tame reported her attacker.[1] Bester was arrested and convicted of the offence of "maintaining a sexual relationship with someone under the age of 17", a crime, Tame argued, that needed to be renamed as in other jurisdictions, due to its misleading use of the word "relationship" for abuse.[1] Bester was also sentenced for possessing child pornography.[7] In sentencing Tame's abuser, Justice Helen Wood said Tame had been "particularly vulnerable given her mental state" and that her abuser "knew her psychological condition was precarious" and had "betrayed the trust of the child's parents and the school's trust in an utterly blatant fashion".[1] At the time of the abuse, Tame had undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder.[8]

In 2013, Tame dropped out of St Michael's Collegiate and later re-enrolled at a different high school. She then moved to the United States, where she graduated from Santa Barbara City College with degrees in theatre arts and liberal arts.[1]

In 2017, social commentator Bettina Arndt conducted an interview with Tame's abuser[9][10] claiming "sexually provocative behaviour from female students". Tame criticised Arndt for supporting her abuser, accusing her of "trivialising" and "laughing off" his crime,[11] saying, "Not only is the interview disturbing because it gives a platform to a paedophile. It's not a truthful interview".[6] Arndt did not seek out Tame for her side of the story,[7][12] and published her name and photo without consent.[13] Her abuser had spoken publicly about the case many times, but Tame was gagged by Tasmanian law.[14][9][10] He was subsequently jailed again for the production of child exploitation material, after describing online how he sexually abused Tame.[15][16][17][11]

Advocacy Edit

Tasmania's Evidence Act had prohibited the publication of information identifying survivors of sexual assault since 2001.[18] In practice, this prevented Tame and other survivors from speaking publicly about their experiences, even as Tame's abuser bragged about his crimes on social media.[3][18] Tame's case led to journalist and sexual assault survivor advocate Nina Funnell working alongside Tame to create a campaign called #LetHerSpeak, in partnership with Marque Lawyers and End Rape on Campus Australia,[19] seeking to overturn this law and a similar law in the Northern Territory.[3] The campaign attracted global support from celebrities including Alyssa Milano, Tara Moss and John Cleese, and from leaders of the MeToo movement.[14] In August 2019, Tame spoke out for the first time after the campaign obtained a court order on her behalf through the Supreme Court of Tasmania[20][21] winning Tame an exemption from the gag law.[14] She was the first female sexual assault survivor in Tasmania to win a court order to speak about her experience.[21]

In October 2019, in response to the #LetHerSpeak campaign led by Funnell and featuring Tame, Attorney-General of Tasmania Elise Archer announced that legislation would be amended to allow sexual assault survivors to publicly speak out. Archer also announced planned changes to the wording of the crime noting that "the word relationship has connotations of consent".[22] In April 2020, the law was changed to allow Tasmanian survivors to speak out.[23]

Tame has become an advocate for others, focusing on helping them understand grooming and psychological manipulation and breaking down the stigma associated with sexual assault.[2][23] She has assisted the Los Angeles Human Trafficking Squad with understanding how child grooming works.[14] Tame advocates education as a means of primary prevention of child sex abuse, rather than too heavily focusing on responses, which can "fuel the unconscious belief that child sexual abuse is just a fact of life that we have to accept in our society".[24] Tame wants to eradicate victim blaming and normalise speaking out, and says greater consistency is needed between federal and state laws.[24]

On 15 March 2021, Tame led the Women's March4Justice event in Hobart.[25]

On 9 February 2022, Tame and former Liberal Party parliamentary staffer and alleged rape survivor Brittany Higgins gave an address at the National Press Club of Australia,[26] which sold out quickly and garnered a huge amount of coverage in the press and on social media. In her talk, Tame revealed that a "senior member" of a government-funded organisation had phoned her and, she felt, in a threatening way, asked her not to criticise the Prime Minister in her outgoing Australian of the Year speech, in the light of the forthcoming election. Both women advocated strongly for structural change, saying the time for talking was past.[27][28][29][30]

Grace Tame Foundation Edit

In December 2021, Tame founded the Grace Tame Foundation which aims for cultural and structural change to eradicate sexual abuse of children.[26] Tame, her fiancé Max Heerey, and her step-father, Ron Plaschke are board directors for the foundation.[31]

Writing Edit

In September 2022 her memoir, The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner, was published by Macmillan Australia. It was shortlisted for the Nonfiction prize at the 2023 Indie Book Awards.[32]

Recognition and public profile Edit

2021 Australian of the Year Edit

In October 2020, Tame was named Tasmanian Australian of the Year 2021.[19] She said, "I could be wrong but I don't think that a survivor of rape has ever been awarded in such a way and that's huge . . . It's hugely empowering for that community recognising and normalising the act of speaking out. There's no shame in surviving. The shame sits at the feet of predators, of perpetrators of these crimes."[19]

On the eve of Australia Day 2021, she was named Australian of the Year.[23] The panel said, "Grace has demonstrated extraordinary courage, using her voice to push for legal reform and raise public awareness about the impacts of sexual violence".[2] She is the first Tasmanian recipient of the award[2][20] and the first as a public survivor of sexual assault.[33] Upon receiving the award, she said "All survivors of child sexual abuse, this is for us... 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."[2][23][34][35] Her speech was praised as "powerful" and "extraordinary".[35]

Other recognition Edit

In 2021, Tame was named as one of Time magazine's Next Generation Leaders,[36] and by the Australian Financial Review as one of the "10 most culturally powerful people in Australia in 2021".[37]

Tame was featured on the cover of the May 2021 Australian issue of Marie Claire magazine. She was the first non-celebrity to appear on the magazine's cover in its 25-year history.[38][39]

A portrait of Tame by Kirsty Neilson was a finalist in the 2021 Archibald Prize. Neilson was inspired by Tame's passion, strength, and bravery in playing an instrumental role in changing Tasmania's gag law.[40]

Press coverage of appearances Edit

On Australia Day 2022, Tame was photographed with a frosty expression while meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Several commentators criticised this, calling her "childish" and "rude", while others praised her integrity. Tame herself stated that "the survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders" and she was not willing to wear the "consequences of civility for the sake of civility".[41]

Personal life Edit

In 2017, Tame married American actor Spencer Breslin.[42][43] They later divorced. Since late 2020, she has been in a relationship with Tasmanian Max Heerey.[44] Tame met Heerey through the running and cycling app Strava.[45] On 22 January 2022, Tame announced her engagement to Heerey via Instagram[46] and Twitter. She has referred to Heerey as her "biggest supporter" and "true soulmate".[45][39]

Tame is a visual artist, and her clientèle has included actor John Cleese, and musician Martin Gore.[1][47] She is also a yoga teacher and long-distance runner, having won the 2020 Ross Marathon in a course record time.[48]

She has a younger brother, Oscar, whom she calls her "little hero", saying, "He came into the world right when the abuse started, and pardon the pun, but he was a literal saving grace".[39]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Funnell, Nina (22 August 2019). "#LetHerSpeak: 'Monster hiding in plain sight' - Grace Tame's sexual abuse ordeal revealed". News.Com.Au. Nationwide News Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 14 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Burnside, Niki (25 January 2021). "Sexual assault survivor and advocate Grace Tame named 2021 Australian of the Year". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 8 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Visontay, Elias; Rachwani, Mostafa (25 January 2021). "Tasmanian sexual assault survivor Grace Tame named 2021 Australian of the Year". The Guardian Australia. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021.
  4. ^ Truman, Isabelle (8 March 2021). "International Women's Day: How Grace Tame is Ensuring a Safer Australia for All Women". Grazia. Mondadori Media S.p.A. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021.
  5. ^ McPherson, Emily (3 March 2021). "Grace Tame criticises PM's response to Brittany Higgins rape claims". 9News. Nine Digital Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b Knowles, Lorna (8 February 2020). "Rape survivor asks Governor-General to cancel Bettina Arndt's Australia Day honour". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 8 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Funnell, Nina; Graham, Chris (10 February 2020). "'Highly Dangerous, Incredibly Ironic': Grace Tame Weighs in On 'Fake Psychologist' Bettina Arndt AM". New Matilda. At Large Media Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 10 February 2020.
  8. ^ Daoud, Elizabeth (22 November 2020). "'I live for human connection': Australian child sexual abuse survivor on how she thrives 10 years on". 7NEWS. Archived from the original on 29 May 2021.
  9. ^ a b Sakkal, Paul (26 February 2020). "'Maintain the rage': Bettina Arndt urges supporters to fight 'feral mobs'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Nine Entertainment Co. Archived from the original on 26 February 2020.
  10. ^ a b Bevin, Edith (12 August 2011). "Teacher jailed for sex with 15-year-old student" (video). ABC TV News. Hobart Tas. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  11. ^ a b Zhou, Naaman (25 January 2020). "Bettina Arndt awarded Australia Day honour for services 'to gender equity'". The Guardian Australia. Archived from the original on 28 January 2020.
  12. ^ Hadley, Ray (31 January 2020). "'Defending the indefensible': Ray Hadley hits out at Bettina Arndt" (audio). 4BC radio. Macquarie Media. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020.
  13. ^ Howard, Jessica (8 February 2020). "Abuse survivor Grace Tame adds voice to strip Bettina Arndt of AM honour". The Mercury (Hobart). News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 8 February 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d Knowles, Lorna (12 August 2019). "Finally, she can speak". 7:30. ABC Australia. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021.
  15. ^ Baines, Richard (12 January 2016). "Former private school teacher Nicolaas Bester jailed after calling sexual relationship with student 'awesome'". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 4 October 2018.
  16. ^ Bevin, Edith (6 April 2016). "University of Tasmania silent on future of PhD student Nicolaas Bester jailed on child sex offences". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 23 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Backlash over Bettina Arndt's Australia Day honour". News.Com.Au. Nationwide News Pty Ltd. 27 January 2020. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020.
  18. ^ a b Humphries, Alexandra (3 March 2020). "Sexual assault survivors in Tasmania win right to speak out publicly". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 30 May 2021.
  19. ^ a b c MacDonald, Lucy (30 October 2020). "Let her Speak campaigner Grace Tame named Tasmanian Australian of the Year". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 13 March 2021.
  20. ^ a b Warren, Kerry; Funnell, Nina (26 January 2021). "Grace Tame, sexual assault survivor and advocate, named 2021 Australian of the Year". News.Com.Au. Nationwide News Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021.
  21. ^ a b Martin, Lisa (12 August 2019). "Grace Tame: Tasmanian survivor of sexual assault wins the right to tell her story". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 May 2021.
  22. ^ Blackwood, Fiona (20 October 2019). "Let Her Speak: Tasmanian Government announces sexual abuse victims will be able to tell their stories". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 30 May 2021.
  23. ^ a b c d "Abuse survivor Grace Tame named Australian of the Year". AP News. Associated Press. 26 January 2021. Archived from the original on 13 March 2021.
  24. ^ a b Crowe, David (25 January 2021). "'Eat my fear': Australian of the Year Grace Tame on surviving child sex abuse". Sydney Morning Herald. Nine Entertainment Co. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021.
  25. ^ Wilkins, Kasey (15 March 2021). "'Evil thrives in silence': Thousands attend Hobart March 4 Justice". The Mercury (Hobart). News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 29 May 2021.
  26. ^ a b "Grace Tame & Brittany Higgins". National Press Club of Australia. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  27. ^ Murphy, Katharine (9 February 2022). "Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins: nine key moments from the sellout press club event". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  28. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (9 February 2022). "Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins are smashing rules and silence – and putting Australia's political leaders on notice". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  29. ^ Arrow, Michelle (9 February 2022). "Making change, making history, making noise: Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame at the National Press Club". The Conversation. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  30. ^ "Australian of the Year Grace Tame's full National Press Club address" (Video). YouTube. Canberra, ACT: ABC News Australia. 3 March 2021.
  31. ^ "The Board". The Grace Tame Foundation. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  32. ^ "Indie Book Awards 2023 shortlist announced". Books+Publishing. 18 January 2023. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  33. ^ Funnell, Nina (26 January 2021). "Reason Grace Tame is an incredible choice for Australian of the Year". News.com.au. Nationwide News Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 March 2021.
  34. ^ Neilsen, Inga (26 January 2021). "'I lost my virginity to a paedophile': Australian of the Year and rape survivor Grace Tame's powerful speech". 9 News. Nine Digital Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 March 2021.
  35. ^ a b "Australian of the Year Grace Tame thrills nation with powerful speech". News.Com.Au. Nationwide News Pty Ltd. 25 January 2021. Archived from the original on 13 March 2021.
  36. ^ "Meet Time's Next Generation Leaders". Time. 27 May 2021. Archived from the original on 4 October 2021.
  37. ^ Turner, Brook (30 September 2021). "The 10 most culturally powerful people in Australia in 2021". Australian Financial Review. Nine Entertainment Co. Archived from the original on 30 September 2021.
  38. ^ "Activist Grace Tame features on Marie Claire cover". Mumbrella. 15 April 2021. Archived from the original on 29 May 2021.
  39. ^ a b c Tame, Grace (22 November 2021). "Grace Tame: 'It's Terrifying To Do Something In The Face Of Evil'". Marie Claire (Interview). Interviewed by Kathryn; Madden. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  40. ^ Stephanie, Mckenna (29 May 2021). "Grace Tame portrait among Archibald Prize finalists". The West Australian. Archived from the original on 29 May 2021.
  41. ^ "'Abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles': Grace Tame addresses her meeting with the PM". ABC News. 2 February 2022. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  42. ^ Funnell, Nina (16 June 2020). "Tasmanian sex assault survivor Grace Tame finally allowed to tell her story". The Mercury (Hobart). News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 16 June 2020.
  43. ^ Akki (6 October 2019). "Facts About Spencer Breslin - Abigail Breslin's Brother and Actor". Glamour Path. Archived from the original on 16 June 2020.
  44. ^ Stow, Katie (27 January 2021). "5 things you might not know about Australian of the Year, Grace Tame". Mamamia. Mamamia.com.au Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021.
  45. ^ a b Wang, Jessica (15 February 2022). "Tame's powerful post to her 'number one hero'". news.com.au. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  46. ^ Wang, Jessica (22 January 2022). "Grace Tame announces shock engagement". news.com.au — Australia’s leading news site. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  47. ^ "The Board". The Grace Tame Foundation. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  48. ^ "Conference Speaker - Grace Tame". Communities in Control Conference. Melbourne. 2021. Archived from the original on 21 September 2021.

Further reading Edit