Grace Tame (Activist and Advocate) – Biography Points

Grace Tame is an Australian activist and advocate

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Grace Tame (Activist and Advocate)

Grace Tame, born on December 28, 1994, in Hobart, Tasmania, is a renowned Australian activist and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Her courageous efforts in fighting for the rights of survivors have earned her widespread recognition and respect. Tame’s journey from a survivor to a leading voice against sexual violence has been marked by her unwavering determination and resilience. She was named the 2021 Australian of the Year on January 25, 2021, a testament to her impactful advocacy and dedication to creating a safer society.

Tame’s activism has been instrumental in challenging and changing laws that previously silenced survivors of sexual assault. Her work has not only given a voice to those who have suffered but has also raised public awareness about the importance of speaking out against such crimes. Her recognition as Australian of the Year highlights the significance of her contributions to social justice and legal reform.

In addition to her advocacy, Tame has been a source of inspiration for many, showing that it is possible to overcome personal trauma and effect change on a national level. Her story is a powerful example of how individual courage can lead to collective progress. Tame continues to inspire and lead efforts to eradicate sexual abuse and support survivors through various initiatives and public engagements.

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Grace Tame (Advocate)
28 December 1994
NameGrace Tame
Date of Birth28 December 1994
Birth of PlaceHobart, Tasmania, Australia
SchoolSt Michael’s Collegiate School
College Santa Barbara City College
ProfessionArtist and yoga teacher
Known asSexual assault survivor advocacy
Spouse(s) Spencer Breslin
Relationship(m. 2017; div. ?)
Partner(s)Max Heerey (2020–present; engaged)
Parents
  • Michael Tame (father)
  • Penelope Plaschke (mother)
Popularity / Awards 
  • Tasmanian Australian of the Year (2020)
  • Australian of the Year (2021)
BooksThe Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner: A Memoir
PopularityArtist and yoga teacher

Early Life

Grace Tame was born in Hobart, Tasmania, and grew up in a family deeply connected to the community. Her father, Michael Tame, was a former Tasmanian cricketer, and his involvement in sports influenced Grace’s upbringing. Despite her family’s support, Tame faced significant challenges early in life, which shaped her future path as an activist.

During her school years, Tame was a bright and determined student, showing an early interest in the arts and social issues. However, her life took a traumatic turn when she became a victim of sexual abuse. This experience profoundly impacted her, leading to years of silence and struggle as she navigated the complexities of trauma and recovery.

The legal constraints in Tasmania, particularly the Evidence Act of 2001, which prohibited survivors from publicly sharing their stories, further compounded Tame’s difficulties. Despite these barriers, Tame’s resolve to fight for justice and support other survivors grew stronger over time. Her personal experiences became the catalyst for her advocacy work, driving her to seek change not only for herself but for all survivors of sexual assault.

Tame’s early life experiences, marked by both personal challenges and familial support, laid the foundation for her future activism. Her journey from a silent survivor to a national advocate is a testament to her strength and determination to make a difference in the lives of others.

Abuse and Aftermath

Tim, a dual scholarship holder at St Michael’s Collegiate Girls’ School in Hobart, was diagnosed with anorexia in year 10. At the age of 15, she was sexually abused by her 58-year-old teacher Nicola Bester. Despite interventions at the school, the abuse continued until 2011 when Bester was arrested. Bester was convicted of sexual intercourse with a minor and possession of child pornography. Justice Helen Wood condemned the abuse, stating that Tim was particularly vulnerable given her state of mind. Tim was not diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder at the time of the abuse. In 2013, Tim dropped out of St. Michael’s College and later re-enrolled at a different high school. She then moved to the United States and earned degrees in theater arts and liberal arts from Santa Barbara City College.

Advocacy

Since 2001, Tasmania’s Evidence Act had prohibited the publication of information identifying survivors of sexual assault, effectively silencing survivors like Tame, even as her abuser boasted about his crimes on social media. This led Grace Tame to collaborate with journalist and sexual assault survivor advocate Nina Funnell. Together, they launched the #LetHerSpeak campaign, in partnership with Marque Lawyers and End Rape on Campus Australia, aiming to overturn this law in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

The campaign gained global support from celebrities such as Alyssa Milano, Tara Moss, and John Cleese, as well as leaders of the MeToo movement. In August 2019, Tame spoke publicly for the first time after obtaining a court order from the Supreme Court of Tasmania, becoming the first female sexual assault survivor in Tasmania to do so.

In response to the #LetHerSpeak campaign, Tasmanian Attorney-General Elise Archer announced in October 2019 that legislation would be amended to allow survivors to speak out publicly. By April 2020, the law was changed, enabling Tasmanian survivors to share their experiences.

Grace Tame continues to advocate for others, focusing on helping them understand grooming, psychological manipulation, and breaking down the stigma associated with sexual assault. She has assisted the Los Angeles Human Trafficking Squad in understanding child grooming and advocates for education as a primary means of preventing child sex abuse. Tame emphasizes the need to eradicate victim-blaming and normalize speaking out, calling for greater consistency between federal and state laws.

On March 15, 2021, Tame led the Women’s March4Justice event in Hobart. On February 9, 2022, she, along with former Liberal Party parliamentary staffer and alleged rape survivor Brittany Higgins, addressed the National Press Club of Australia. Tame revealed that a senior member of a government-funded organization had, in her view, threatened her to refrain from criticizing the Prime Minister in her Australian of the Year speech due to the forthcoming election. Both women strongly advocated for structural change, stating that the time for talking had passed.

Grace Tame Foundation

In December 2021, Grace Tame founded the Grace Tame Foundation, aiming for cultural and structural change to eradicate child sexual abuse. She, her fiancé Max Heerey, and her step-father Ron Plaschke serve as board directors.

In September 2022, Tame’s memoir, “The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner,” was published by Macmillan Australia. It was shortlisted for the Nonfiction prize at the 2023 Indie Book Awards.

Recognition and Public Profile

2021 Australian of the Year

In October 2020, Grace Tame was named Tasmanian Australian of the Year for 2021. She remarked, “I could be wrong, but I don’t think that a survivor of rape has ever been awarded in such a way, and that’s huge. It’s hugely empowering for that community, recognizing and normalizing the act of speaking out. There’s no shame in surviving. The shame sits at the feet of predators, of perpetrators of these crimes.”

On the eve of Australia Day 2021, she was named Australian of the Year. The panel commended her, saying, “Grace has demonstrated extraordinary courage, using her voice to push for legal reform and raise public awareness about the impacts of sexual violence.” Tame is the first Tasmanian recipient of the award and the first public survivor of sexual assault to receive it. Upon receiving the award, she dedicated it to all survivors of child sexual abuse, stating, “When we share, we heal. Together we can end child sexual abuse. I remember him saying, ‘Don’t make a sound.’ Well, hear me now, using my voice amongst a chorus of voices that will not be silenced.” Her speech was widely praised as “powerful” and “extraordinary.”

Press Coverage of Appearances

On Australia Day 2022, Tame was photographed with a frosty expression while meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison. This sparked mixed reactions, with some commentators criticizing her as “childish” and “rude,” while others praised her integrity. Tame responded by saying, “The survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders” and that she was not willing to bear the “consequences of civility for the sake of civility.”

Personal Life

In 2017, Tame married American actor Spencer Breslin, but they later divorced. Since late 2020, she has been in a relationship with Tasmanian Max Heerey, whom she met through the running and cycling app Strava. On January 22, 2022, Tame announced her engagement to Heerey via Instagram and Twitter, calling him her “biggest supporter” and “true soulmate.

Tame is also a visual artist, with clients including actor John Cleese and musician Martin Gore. Additionally, she is a yoga teacher and long-distance runner, having won the 2020 Ross Marathon in a course record time.

She has a younger brother, Oscar, whom she calls her “little hero,” saying, “He came into the world right when the abuse started, and pardon the pun, but he was a literal saving grace.”

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