Grace Tame reveals 'threatening' phone call about Scott Morrison

The 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame has hit out at Scott Morrison and his government during a powerful speech at the national National Press Club, revealing a phone call she received warning her against publicly bad-mouthing the PM.

The phone call came from a senior member of a government funded organisation, she said.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Tame told those in the audience – including government ministers and Labor leader Anthony Albanese – to brace themselves.

She then divulged the details of the phone call she received just months after being named Australian of the Year.

Grace Tame has revealed details about a phone call she had with a senior member of a government funded organisation. Source: ABC
Grace Tame has revealed details about a phone call she had with a senior member of a government funded organisation. Source: ABC

"On the 17 August last year, not five months after being named Australian of the Year, I received a threatening phone call from a senior member of a government-funded organisation," Ms Tame said.

The person on the other end was "asking for my word that I would not say anything damning about the Prime Minister on the evening of the next Australian of the Year Awards.

"You are an influential person. He will have a fear, they said," Ms Tame recalled.

The Australian of the Year then asked what would Mr Morrison have fear about? Fear for our nation's most vulnerable? A fear for the future of our plan?

"And then I heard the words," she said.

"You know, with an election coming soon.

"And it crystallised, a fear for himself and no one else. A fear that he might lose his position, or more to the point, his power."

Ms Tame, a child sexual assault survivor, likened the situation to the response from the perpetrator who repeatedly raped her as a school student.

"I remember standing in the shadow of a trusted authority figure being threatened in just the same veiled way," she recalled.

"I remember him saying, 'I'll lose my job if anyone hears about this and you wouldn't want that, would you?'"

"What I wanted in that moment is the same thing I want right now — and that is an end to the darkness, an end to sexual violence, safety, equity, respect, a better future for all of us."

Earlier this year, Ms Tame was relentlessly savaged in the press and online for not smiling with the Prime Minister during photo op at the 2022 Australian of the Year Finalists Morning Tea at The Lodge in Canberra.

“The survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders. It is dependent on hypocrisy,” Ms Tame later wrote on Twitter.

Addressing the press club, Ms Tame said she is where she is today because she made a “conscious decision” to stand up to evil, saying since then, she has been calling out injustice.

Grace Tame laments government's 'facades and false hopes'

Ms Tame went on to call out the "patterns of deception and deceit" she repeatedly witnessed among politicians over the last year.

"I have seen the patterns of deception and deceit performed by predators mimicked in our halls of power. And that's just it," she said.

"The federal government's approach to social issues seems to consist of nothing but empty announcements, placatory platitudes, superficial last-minute acknowledgements, and carefully-staged photo ops, facades and false hope.

"Reviews, reports, delays, and distractions - if not downright denials."

All of which were deliberate spin tactics to satisfy the press and public.

Pictured. is 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame (left) and advocate for survivors of sexual assault Brittany Higgins at  the National Press Club in Canberra, Wednesday, February 9, 2022
2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame (left) and advocate for survivors of sexual assault Brittany Higgins both addressed the National Press Club in Canberra. Source: AAP

She wrapped up her address with three key asks — the first being the government taking sexual assault seriously.

Ms Tame said progress could not be made without accountability and abuse culture would thrive if politicians do not take some accountability for their failings.

"Abuse culture will continue to thrive inside parliament, setting a corrupt standard for the rest of the nation. It rots from the top," she said.

Ms Tame called for proactive measures, not reactive, bandaid solutions.

The second ask was for adequate funding to be implemented for preventative education, to stop abuse before it starts.

"We currently have a government that is primarily concerned with short-sighted, votes-based funding, not with long-term, needs-based funding," she said.

"And what we need in order to create real change is meaningful investment in our children. In their education. Because they are the future of our nation."

Pictured is Prime Minister Scott Morrison and 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame during a morning tea for state and territory recipients in the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards at The Lodge in Canberra, Tuesday, January 25, 2022
2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame has spoken about what more the government can do to protect Australians from sexual assault. Source: AAP

The third was a call for action, for national, consistent, legislative change.

"Still today, perpetrators of abuse, find safety in outdated inconsistent legislation, which both protects them and perpetuates social ignorance," she said

Ms Tame said these three key demands were achievable, adding there is still much work to do.

"It's all well and good to change hearts and minds with our conversations but without structural change we will continue to be at the mercy of systems that override them," she said.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT (737 732) for the National Sexual Assault Counselling Service.

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