Australian of the Year's powerful speech

Ms Tame is using her voice to make a difference for others - and encouraging all Australians to do the same.

Australian of the Year's powerful speech

Grace Tame, a sexual assault survivor who campaigned against Tasmania's gag laws, gave a powerful speech after being announced as the 2021 Australian of the Year.

"I lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15. Anorexic. He was 58," Ms Tame said to start her speech.

She spoke of being groomed and raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher Nicolaas Bester when she was in Year 10 at the exclusive all-girl St Michael's Collegiate School in Hobart.

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She was unable to legally speak out about her experience, despite Bester being able to.

Now, Ms Tame is using her voice to make a difference for others - and encouraging all Australians to do the same.

Read the full speech below:

I lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15. Anorexic. He was 58.

He was my teacher. For months he groomed me and then abused me almost every day - before school, after school, in my uniform, on the floor. I didn't know who I was.

Publicly, he described his crimes as "awesome" and "enviable". Publicly, I was silenced by law.

Not anymore. Australia, we've come a long way but there's still more work to do in a lot of areas. Child sexual abuse and cultures that enable it still exist.

Grooming and its lasting impacts are not widely understood. Predators manipulate all of us - family, friends, colleagues, strangers, in every class, culture and community. They thrive when we fight amongst ourselves and weaponise all our vulnerabilities. Trauma does not discriminate. Nor does it end when the abuse itself does.

First Nations people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI community and other marginalised groups face greater barriers to justice.

Every voice matters. Solutions are borne of all of us.

I was abused by a male teacher but one of the first people I told was also a male teacher, and he believed me.

This year and beyond, my focus is on empowering survivors and education as a primary means of prevention. It starts with conversation. We're all welcome at this table.

Communication breeds understanding and understanding is the foundation of progress. Lived experience informs structural and social change.

When we share, we heal.

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.

Together, we can redefine what it means to be a survivor.

Together, we can end child sexual abuse. Survivors, be proud, our voices are changing history.

Eleven years ago, I was in hospital, anorexic with atrophied muscles, I struggled to walk.

Last year I ran a marathon. We do transform as individuals and as a community.

When I was first reported I was shamed and ridiculed by shame.

But now my truth is helping to reconnect us. I know who I am - I'm a survivor, a proud, Tasmanian.

I remember him towering over me, blocking the door. I remember him saying, "Don't tell anybody."

I remember him saying, "Don't make a sound."

Well, hear me now, using my voice, amongst a growing chorus of voices that will not be silenced!

Let's make some noise, Australia!

Contact 1800 RESPECT, the national sexual assault and domestic family violence counselling service on 1800 737 732, or (private browsing recommended). If you are in immediate danger, call Triple Zero.

Source : 9 News More