How Grace Tame threw the rulebook out the window


“I was very careful not to criticize the government too much and stayed away from social media,” Batty said.

“I tried to do it in a way that brought people on the journey. She wasn’t afraid to sting the bear. I admired Grace’s forehead, but it’s a dangerous game.

Praising Tame as “smart and genuine,” Batty adds, “She has to call it what she sees it, but sometimes I didn’t feel comfortable.”

For example, Batty says she thinks Tame was too harsh in calling out Morrison for allegedly telling her he “bet it felt good saying it” after he gave an impassioned Australia Day speech recounting his childhood experience of sexual abuse.

“I felt a little sorry for him actually and I don’t always feel sorry for this man,” Batty says. “No one knows what to say to you in a situation like this, they try to be nice.

“She calls him, but shaming him in public like that would make it more awkward when you’re going to see him at some point and want government funding.”

Rosie Batty, the 2015 Australian of the Year, says she and Grace Tame took different approaches to the role. Credit:Joe Armao

Tame, who declined to comment for this piece, announced her engagement to longtime partner Max Heerey on Saturday. She will appear at the National Press Club next month alongside her friend and ally Brittany Higgins, the former political staffer who last year accused a male colleague of raping her in parliament.

Tame has regularly slammed Morrison over the past year, usually only referring to him as “Scott” in his tweets. Morrison’s critics have attacked him in the past for referring to women only by their first names.

“Scott just finished his keynote address at the Women’s Safety Summit in which he appropriated survivors’ private disclosures to leverage his own image,” Tame tweeted in September. “Gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.”

In October, after saying she had not been consulted by the government on a national plan to end child abuse, she tweeted: “We the people surely deserve politicians who are above over gaslighting survivors?”

When Morrison appeared in the Ashes comment box earlier this month as coronavirus cases surged, Tame tweeted: ‘As long as he wins the media day he’s laughing. And the joke is on whoever buys his pre-written and practiced dribble. Our country is in trouble today and Scott is watching cricket.

Batty, 59, says she believes a generational divide explains the different approaches she and Tame took to the role.

“I’m one of the most tolerant, forgiving, supportive and respectful generation because we were raised that way,” she says. She will meet Tame for the first time at an event at the Sydney Opera House in March.

Hetty Johnston, who was named Queenslander of the Year in 2015 for her work as a child protection advocate, says a more adversarial approach may be needed for effective advocacy.

“Sometimes you have to piss people off if you want to make changes,” she says.

“It’s very difficult to get governments to listen to you, especially on the issue of sexual assault. It’s as if they were deaf. To get through this you have to say what no one else wants to say.

Former NSW Liberal cabinet member Pru ​​Goward, who served as minister for the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, said Tame represents a new generation of more outspoken activists.

“There’s the emergence of the angry young woman who doesn’t have time for what my generation is going through,” said Goward, 69. “She’s incredibly brave and takes no prisoners and I think young women are looking for that.”

Describing Tame as an “incredibly articulate and very attractive public figure”, Goward adds that there were times when she “cringed” at his criticisms of the government.


“Sometimes I felt she wasn’t being generous,” Goward says. “If you’re negotiating something as complex as a national approach to sexual abuse, you have to accept that sometimes governments have their limits and won’t go all the way with you.

“Scott Morrison must have felt very disappointed at times that she never acknowledged that he seemed to be trying.

“But young women are above that: they are done with generosity. She is right about the times that seem to be emerging.

Sexual assault survivor and lawyer Nina Funnell, who organized the #LetHerSpeak campaign which brought national attention to Tame, said: ‘Grace will always tell you what she’s thinking and that can upset people. ‘easy.

“I understand why people would find it confronting, but I think it’s refreshing.”

Funnell says not being beholden to a particular organization has allowed Tame to speak more outspokenly than past recipients of the award.

“What Grace did was break a stereotype that victims are pathetic, broken people,” Funnell says.

“She advanced a new image of survivors as brave, bold and articulate. Grace deserves all of our support.

Funnell, however, is extremely critical of the National Australia Day Council for failing to provide Tame with sufficient assistance to carry out such a demanding role. In April, Tame revealed that she had called a suicide prevention hotline after having to repeatedly speak out about her sexual abuse experience.

“A few weeks ago I crashed to rock bottom, the constant re-traumatization of re-reading my past and talking about it in the media came to a head,” Tame said at a women’s event. business in Melbourne.

Funnell says she believes the Australia Day Council has “continually failed in its ethical responsibilities to Grace and other survivors”.

“It is unethical for a society to elevate one or two women to these positions of enormous responsibility and expect them to find all their answers while constantly scrutinizing and separating their actions,” says -she.

“Grace herself has had an overwhelmingly positive impact, but the awards organization itself needs a review.”

Karlie Brand, chief executive of the National Australia Day Council (NADC), said the organization is working closely with beneficiaries to help them identify their needs and plan for the year ahead.

“NADC wants every Aussie of the Year to have a positive experience,” says Brand. “He views this as a professional and ethical responsibility and works with recipients to ensure they are supported.”

After Tame’s often contentious tenure, Batty says she will be intrigued by who the council recognizes as this Australian day.

“I would put money on it for it to be a safer option,” she says. “I suspect Grace wasn’t the ‘ideal victim’. She followed her heart, said what she meant and was out of control. That’s why people look up to her.

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