Grace Tame has opened up about the ‘unjustifiably cruel’ treatment she has faced since being named Australian of the Year.
Ms Tame was just 26 when she was swept into the spotlight as she received the national honor for her work advocating for victims of sexual assault last year – after being abused herself by his high school teacher.
Speaking at a women’s leadership event for Australia’s Committee for Economic Development on Tuesday night, she said she had faced a ‘disproportionate amount’ of criticism since becoming a public figure public, which had significantly affected his mental health.
Ms Tame told the Committee for Economic Development Australia’s women’s leadership event on Tuesday that she had faced a “disproportionate amount” of criticism for her advocacy work.
Ms Tame said her work as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault can be overwhelming and that she had been treated for suicidal thoughts after going “too far down the spiral of shame”.
“Some of the criticism I get is part and parcel of being in a public space, but sometimes it’s indefensible and cruel, and the toll on our mental health, not just mine, is… I can’t really describe it because unless you’ve been in that space, it’s hard to identify with it,’ she said.
‘You have all these different people telling you to do this and do that and making unrealistic demands of your time and your energy and criticism even comes from the industry you work in, which is disheartening to say the least.
She said she was “very aware” of the privilege she must have to be heard, but acknowledged that her “journey has not been easy”.
“First Nations peoples, people with disabilities, migrants and other even more marginalized people face even greater barriers to justice and, in fact, in some cases their paths to justice are impossible – let’s face it. realistic.”
Her comments come just days after she revealed how she was recently rushed to the emergency room after pressure from her public profile contributed to a suicidal depression.
Grace Tame became the first Tasmanian to win Australian of the Year in 2021 and is a vocal advocate for victims of sexual assault
Ms Tame said that if people working in the advocacy sector “spend a disproportionate amount of time tearing themselves apart, the people who will benefit are the perpetrators”.
“I was actually in the ER the other day because I lost control and was really scared,” Ms Tame said at the All About Women festival event on Sunday.
“I called the clinic and said, ‘I can’t, I can’t, I’ve gone too far down the shame spiral and I’m thinking about killing myself. It’s real and it’s the right price. This is the price of shame,” she said.
Ms Tame, who co-founded the #LetHerSpeak movement, has faced a steady stream of public scrutiny since accepting the award.
The latest controversy revolved around his icy attitude towards the Prime Minister in January.
At a morning tea hosted by Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny at the Lodge in Canberra, she seemed unable to hide her displeasure with the Prime Minister.
After giving Mr Morrison a scowl and an unfriendly handshake, she then gave him an icy sideways glance as he greeted other guests.
Several weeks later, in a speech to the National Press Club, she alleged the reason for her bad mood was that a senior member of a government-funded organization had warned her not to make ‘damning’ comments. on the prime minister.
Ms Tame (pictured with fiancé Max Heerey) said at the Protecting the Outspoken event at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday that she had gone to the emergency room after going into a ‘spiral of shame’ which led to suicidal thoughts.
Ms Tame’s most recent scandal was her sour behavior when she met Scott Morrison in January, where he made no effort to hide his disapproval by shaking her hand.
But controversy and a rocky relationship with the federal government have been a feature of Ms Tame’s tenure in the role – a stark contrast to previous recipients.
Just days ago, at an event in Adelaide, she claimed the government was ‘more concerned with maintaining power and control than running the country’.
On Sunday, Ms Tame credited her ‘wicked sense of humour’ as helping to allow her to be herself in such situations, but that it ‘also got her into trouble’.
Speaking alongside anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, also a former Australian of the Year, Ms Tame said she was likely ‘rougher around the edges’ than Ms Batty – who previously said the Ms Tame’s attitude towards the government had made her ‘uncomfortable’.
‘I didn’t ask for this… I lived in a housing commission area. I was unemployed when I was named Australian of the Year,” Ms Tame said.
Ms Tame said she intended to continue her advocacy work despite public scrutiny and wanted to make the field of work more accessible to everyday Australians.
But as the stress weighs on her, Ms Tame said she was still ‘grateful’ for the honor and admitted some of the criticism leveled at her unorthodox approach to the role was ‘justified’.
Ms Tame, along with former parliamentary staffer Brittany Higgins, became a leading figure in the late #MeToo movement in Australia
She said she would like to see the movement become more accessible by letting go of some of its combative side – even within the movement itself with some factions mired in bitterness and semantics.
“If we focus too much on the negative, I don’t think we’ll get very far and I worry about this divide and conquer,” she said.
“There is all this inaccessible language in this sector, you have to ask yourself what is really inclusive”.
“I didn’t go to college, I didn’t do gender studies.”
Ms Tame intends to continue her advocacy work despite public pressure, founding the Grace Tame Foundation in December 2021.
If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, Bravehearts on 1800 272 831 or Lifeline on 131 114.