Months on from her Australian of the Year win, sexual assault survivor Grace Tame has revealed the comments Prime Minister Scott Morrison shared with her following her powerful and emotional speech at the event.
Appearing on the Betoota Advocate podcast this week, a conversation was sparked by the satirical newspaper hosts when they described Morrison as “visibly uncomfortable” during Tame’s speech.
“Do you know what he said to me, right after I finished that speech and we’re in front of a wall of media?”, Tame responded. “I shit you not, he leaned over, and right in my ear he goes, ‘Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out’.”
Hailing from Hobart, Tame was the first Tasmanian to ever be named Australian of the Year and has been praised for her work shining a light on child sexual abuse and the warning signs of grooming. The former marie claire Australia cover star was groomed and repeatedly abused by her 58-year-old maths teacher, who was found guilty and jailed from his crimes when she was 15.
In her speech, Tame was explicit in her description of what had happened to her.
“Discussion of child sexual abuse is uncomfortable. But nothing is as uncomfortable as abuse itself,” she told the audience during the event. “I lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15, anorexic. He was 58, my teacher. For months, he groomed me, then abused me every day: Before school, after school, in my uniform, on the floor. I didn’t know who I was.”
The following day in question time, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek asked the Prime Minister if this was, in fact, his response to the “brave woman’s extraordinary speech.”
According to The Australian, Morrison said he couldn’t recall exactly what words he used “but I wouldn’t question that in any way shape or form.”
“That is roughly my recollection,” he responded. “That was a very brave statement, that is exactly what I meant when I said that to her on that occasion.
“It was a very proud moment for her and her great struggle and challenge over a long period of time, and what she did on that occasion was speak with a very strong voice about what had occurred to her.
“I think in raising her voice in that way, it would have been great to so many victims of sexual assault and harassment around the country. That is exactly what I meant.”
Tame’s recent comments come in the wake of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct in parliament. In the past few months alone, the Australian public has been confronted by Brittany Higgins’ allegation that she was raped in Parliament House; saw former Defence Minister Linda Reynolds issue an apology after calling Higgins, an alleged rape victim, a “lying cow”; backlash over Morrison invoking his daughters to empathise with Higgins’ experience; a nationwide rally to March 4 Justice; and an allegation of Coalition staffers filming and sharing footage of themselves performing sex acts in parliament House.
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