Australian of the year Grace Tame has berated the prime minister for his rhetoric and handling of allegations of sexual assault that have affected his government.
Tame, a sexual assault survivor who has been a fearless advocate for his fellow survivors and the need to change the way the nation and the law handle their cases, was asked to address Scott Morrison admitting that he needed his wife understood the allegations raised by Brittany Higgins. .
Morrison said his wife, Jenny, had “cleared up” the issue for him.
“She told me, ‘You have to think about this as a parent first. What would you like to see happen if you were our girls? ‘”The prime minister told the media last month after Higgins went public with her rape accusation.
Tame, who was unable to directly address the allegations that have consumed parliament, was succinct in her response. “You shouldn’t have to have children to have a conscience,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday. “And actually, in addition to that, having children does not guarantee a conscience.”
Tame received applause from the room for his response. He was then asked if Morrison was following through on his 2019 words, when he said he hoped rape survivors felt they would believe them.
“Clearly not,” he said.
Tame said she was not surprised that the nation was grappling with its understanding of issues related to sexual assault.
“The culture of cover-up, the abuse of power, is not exclusive to parliament,” he said. “So it’s not necessarily these individual cases. It is the theme itself that will continue to inspire me to do this work. I was doing this job before it dominated the national stage.
“You know, and right now it is accentuated, because it is happening in the center of our country, in parliament. But as I said, it is not exclusive to parliament. It happens everywhere. “
In a powerful speech, which silenced a room by some of the most powerful men and women in the country, Tame said the only way to change the situation was to allow the survivors to be heard.
“There are many things in this world that are ugly and dark,” he said. “But we have to remember that we are all human beings. And that ugliness and darkness is, sadly, important because it helps inform how we move towards the light. “
Much has been written about Tame’s own story and the ultimately successful campaign to change Tasmanian law to allow survivors to have a voice in their own stories. Before the #letherspeak campaign, survivors were not legally allowed to share their stories. Tame, in collaboration with other survivors and journalist Nina Funnell, lobbied for the law to be changed, allowing Tame and others to tell their stories and recover the narrative.
But while grateful for her platform, which has grown in the past five weeks since she was named Australian of the Year, Tame deliberately reminded journalists to worry about those stories.
“Listening to survivors is one thing; repeatedly expecting people to relive their trauma on their terms, without our consent, without prior notice, is another, ”he said. “It is sensationalism. It is commodification of our pain. It is exploitation. It is the same abuse.
“Of all the many forms of trauma, rape has the highest rate of PTSD. Healing from trauma does not mean that it has been forgotten, nor does it mean that symptoms are never felt again.
“The trauma lives in ourselves. Our unconscious bodies are one step ahead of our conscious minds. When we are shot, we are at the mercy of our emotional brain. In this state, it is impossible to discern between past and present. That is retraumatization.
“I cried more than once while writing this. Just because I’ve been recognized for my story doesn’t mean it’s fair game anywhere, anytime.
“It is not easier to say. I may be strong, but I’m human, like everyone else. “
However, his strongest message was kept for the other survivors.
“This is our time,” he said. “We need to seize this opportunity. We need to be bold and courageous; We recognize that we have a platform where I stand with you in solidarity and support. Share your truth, it is your power.
“One voice, your voice and our collective voices can make a difference. We are on the brink of a revolution whose call to action must be heard loud and clear. That’s right, you got it. Let’s keep making noise Australia. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism