'I lost my virginity to a paedophile': Sexual assault survivor named Australian of the Year

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read

Empowering sexual assault survivors and highlighting the importance of education as prevention is set to be the focus for new Australian of the Year Grace Tame.

The 26-year-old from Tasmania was awarded the honour on Monday evening, having already been named the Apple Isle's Australian of the Year.

Ms Tame was awarded for her tireless advocacy for sexual assault survivors, resulting in the overturning of Tasmanian laws preventing survivors from speaking out.

She was just 15 when she was groomed and abused by her high school maths teacher, who was later jailed for his crimes.

Ms Tame shown celebrating her 2021 Australian of the Year Award in Canberra on Monday. Source: AAP
Ms Tame shown celebrating her 2021 Australian of the Year Award in Canberra on Monday. Source: AAP

Her experience helped spark the #LetHerSpeak campaign, helping Ms Tame become the first woman in Tasmania to be granted the legal right to speak out about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.

Ms Tame has pledged to spend the next year advocating for better education on assault, grooming and psychological manipulation by abusers

"We've come a long way but there's still more work to do in a lot of areas," she said.

"Child sexual abuse and cultures that enable it still exist.

"Just as the impacts of evil are borne by all of us, so too are solutions born of all of us."

All four Australian of the Year categories for 2021 have been won by remarkable women, with the recipients revealed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at an event in Canberra.

"These awards are an annual reminder of just what Australians can do and achieve. Of what we can build together as a country - one and free," he said.

Grace Tame is the 2021 Australian of the Year. Source: AAP
Grace Tame is the 2021 Australian of the Year. Source: AAP

Aboriginal elder Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann has been crowned Senior Australian of the Year, using her speech to implore the nation to better understand Indigenous communities.

"Now is the time for you to come closer to understand us and to understand how we live and listen to what needs are in our communities," she said.

Young Australian of the Year Isobel Marshall is a social entrepreneur and student who is passionate about ending 'period poverty' and stigma around menstruation.

Kenyan refugee turned NSW local Rosemary Kariuki was crowned Australia's Local Hero for her work helping female migrants combat loneliness and the unknown as they settle into their new communities.

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