'Shouldn't take having kids': Sexual abuse survivor's swipe at PM

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·3-min read

Sexual assault survivor Grace Tame has taken a swipe at Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his response to allegations a young Liberal staffer was raped in her boss's office.

After Brittany Higgins came forward with the allegations last month, Mr Morrison denounced the incident and spoke about being a father of daughters, and how his wife asked how he would feel if they were in the position of Ms Higgins.

"[My wife] Jenny and I spoke last night and she said to me: 'You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?' Jenny has a way of clarifying things," he said.

The prime minister was criticised for the comments, with some saying he shouldn鈥檛 need a proxy to empathise with a rape victim.

Grace Tame answers questions at the National Press Club.
Grace Tame took a brutal swipe at Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his handling of rape allegations. Source: ABC

Following Ms Tame's powerful speech detailing her own experience of sexual abuse at the National Press Club on Wednesday, she was asked about her reaction to Mr Morrison's handling of the allegations.

"It shouldn't take having children to have a conscience. And, actually, on top of that, having children doesn't guarantee a conscience," she said in a poignant response to the question.

On Tuesday, a video also emerged of Mr Morrison from 2019 where he said it was important survivors had confidence they would be believed.

"Do you think those words ring true now in the way he handled that," the reporter asked Ms Tame.

"Clearly not," she said in an abrupt response.

Scott Morrison haunted by comments in wake of allegations

The 2019 clip has come back to haunt Mr Morrison after he said the cabinet minister subject to an allegation of rape in 1988 was entitled to be "presumed innocent".

Mr Morrison told reporters on Monday the minister accused had "vigorously rejected" the allegations.

However he was slammed for hypocrisy after Australian political journalist Samantha Maiden tweeted a video which appears to be from May 2019, where Mr Morrison says all rape victims should be believed.

"One of the early questions on rape and women being raped and the lack of reporting," he said in 2019.

"And one of the things that often happens with that is, they're not believed and their stories are not believed. And it's important that their stories are believed and that they know that if they come forward, their stories will be believed.

Grace Tame's powerful address

During her address on Wednesday Tame called for reform in both policy and education to establish a national legal definition of consent, and tackle the scourge of child sexual assault.

She recalled her difficult history of being raped by a school teacher, and urged the Australian public and media to delicately listen to the story of survivors, calling for change in how society addresses the confronting issue.

In a powerful speech which drew tears from journalists in the room, Ms Tame slammed the "cover-up culture" that exists in industries and institutions that embolden perpetrators.

"It is so important for our nation, the whole world in fact, to listen to survivors' stories. Whilst they're disturbing to hear, the reality of what goes on behind closed doors is more so. And the more details we omit for fear of disturbance, the more we soften these crimes," she said.

If you or somebody you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732, the Sexual Assault Support Services on 6231 1811 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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