2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, shared her inspiring story at the Give Where You Live Foundation’s inaugural Conversations That Matter event on Wednesday 3 August.
The Give Where You Live Foundation has launched Conversations That Matter to encourage conversations on issues that matter to our community.
Over 600 people attended the event to hear Grace Tame speak from the heart, about how she turned her traumatic experience into advocacy for survivors of child sexual assault and become a leader of positive change.
She opened by reflecting on 2021, which she described as having some of the highest highs and the lowest lows.
“I feel so lucky, honoured, supported and loved to have been the first public survivor of child sexual abuse to be named Australian of the Year.”
Grace shared that the good and bad of the last 18 months has been the driving force behind the launch of the Grace Tame Foundation which she established to create meaningful change.
In talking about her work to remove the word ‘relationship’ from legislation across the county, she highlighted the power of language and inconsistencies in definitions that inform public narrative around a victim blaming culture.
“We rely on the media, the police, and the courts to use language which reflects the crime. Which is why we need to reform our laws in order to change the conversation.”
“One word. Relationship. I’m fighting to remove that word from legislation across the country. These crimes are not relationships or affairs. They’re crimes.”
“We are currently running a law reform campaign called ‘Stop Gaslighting Survivors’. Sadly, WA and Victoria are the only two states that don’t use the word relationship in the legal definition of child sexual abuse cases.”
Grace shared the important message that we need to hear more from people who don’t always have a platform.
“Every voice matters. Keep amplifying lived experience as that is what truly informs change.”
“While there’s still so much work to be done, remember we all have the power to do something. We’re all change makers in some capacity. We are all dominoes.”
“I’m hopeful this shift we’re currently in feels different.”
Grace encouraged the Give Where You Live Foundation to keep listening and to continue to hold uncomfortable spaces.
“It’s in the uncomfortable spaces where the lightbulb moments happen.”
“I want everyone to go back and think about what it is they can do to help change the injustices in our society.”
She then thanked the support from the room.
“It’s one thing to have a message, but it’s another to have that message received. I stand on the shoulders of giants. To every person in this room, I thank you for having my back.”
Bill Mithen, CEO, Give Where You Live Foundation said Conversations That Matter aims to bring to light the realities facing everyday people across our region.
“Conversations That Matter is part of the Foundation’s commitment to raising issues that can be difficult to talk about, giving people a voice and creating positive change.”
“We know change occurs when people have a voice. Grace Tame has shown how a conversation can turn into action.”
“The Foundation has a goal to keep amplifying the voices of those with lived experience. Our community needs to hear from First Nations People, LGBTQIA+, refugees, asylum seekers and people with disability.”
“The more we give voice to people with lived experience, the more positive change we can make,” Bill said.
The event was hosted by writer Nelly Thomas and also featured a special performance of “No Means No” by Give Where You Live community partner, Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company.
Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company received a 2022 Survive & Thrive grant from the Foundation to fund the creation of a short film which addresses the issue of consent that included the song ‘No Means No.’
During the event, Kiara a performer with Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company, shared that after seeing a speech by Grace Tame, she was inspired to share her own experience with issues of consent which led to the creation of the song ‘No Means No.’
“I was just on my phone one night and I saw a Grace Tame speech. And that had a massive impact on me, so I ended up just coming here the next day and talking to Maud and Kgshak about it. We spoke about the speech and consent with the kids during their rehearsals that day,” Kiara said.
“There’s a lot of young people out there that are scared to say ‘no’ in certain situations. I know, I was petrified of saying the word ‘no’… ‘No, I don’t want that.’ ‘No, don’t do that,” Kiara added.
In closing the event, Bill Mithen encouraged the audience to consider what they can do to help create change and continue the conversation with their networks. He also shared how the Foundation will be continuing its advocacy in this space.
“The Foundation plays an important role in building resources and raising awareness in our community. Following this event, we will be continuing to work with our community partners, including The Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre to further support people with lived experience to have a voice,” Mr Mithen said.
Grace stayed at the event for an hour after the conclusion talking and taking photos with the audience.
“It’s the least I can do for the people who showed up and show me so much support,” Grace said.
The event was presented with support from the following sponsors:
Major Sponsor, The GeelongPort
The GeelongPort, Chief Executive Officer, Brett Winter said:
“We congratulate Give Where You Live for introducing the Conversations That Matter series. This initiative provides a space to discuss issues that are critical to people in our region, and it has the potential to create real and positive change for our community.”
Community Event Sponsor, WorkSafe Victoria
WorkSafe, CEO, Colin Radford said great power and cultural change could come from the simple act of conversation.
“WorkSafe is proud to support Give Where You Live to promote the importance of difficult conversations, whether they be in our homes, our workplaces or in the local community.”
“Worksafe will always use our voice to champion people’s right to be safe, healthy and well – the Victorian community deserves nothing less.”
Wellbeing Sponsor, Ramsey Property Group
Ramsey Property Group, Director, Samantha Ramsey said:
“Ramsey Property Group is very pleased to support the inaugural Conversations That Matter event presented by the Give Where You Live Foundation. At Ramsey Property Group, our guiding philosophy is that Where You Live is Everything and we see this as not only the physical environment within our communities, but also the wider social community that we live and operate within. As such, we see strong harmonization in partnering with Give Where You Live by being the wellbeing sponsor for their inaugural Conversations That Matters.”