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Sexual assault campaigner Grace Tame wins Australian of the Year

Tasmania's Grace Tame has been crowned Australian of the Year (pictured)

Tasmania's Grace Tame has been crowned Australian of the Year for her advocacy and campaign work for survivors of sexual assault.

The 26-year-old was presented with the award at a ceremony in Canberra on Monday evening, marking the first time a Tasmanian has won the title.

Ms Tame wants a greater focus on education and prevention of child sexual assault, particularly through grooming and psychological manipulation by abusers.

The Tasmanian became the first woman in the state to win the right to publicly name herself as a rape survivor, allowing her to speak about the abuse she went through as a 15-year-old, at the hands of a maths teacher.

Prior to her legal victory, Ms Tame was barred from speaking publicly about the crimes in which she was a victim, while her abuser - who was jailed - was able to openly tell his story.

Ms Tame decided to get a tattoo when she was 19 to represent her survival. The tattoo reads: 'Eat my fear'. 

She explained that the message is about speaking up against abusers and learning the lessons from survivors. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and 2021 Australian of the Year winner Grace Tame during the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards at the National Arboretum in Canberra

Ms Tame (pictured) became the first woman in the state to win the right to publicly name herself as a rape survivor, allowing her to speak about the abuse she went through as a 15-year-old, at the hands of a maths teacher

'It's about swallowing the terror and moving forward regardless,' she said.

'That's what predators weaponise – they weaponise our fear. That's the foundation of their psychological manipulation, which is a huge element of prolonged sexual abuse.

'In fact, I would say it's the main component of prolonged sexual abuse – the cycle of psychological manipulation, as opposed to the physical, criminal behaviour. And predators want us to feel that fear.

'I say, no, let's transfer it back into their hearts, where it belongs.' 

Ms Tame is hoping to use her new found position as Australian of the Year to make laws more consistent nationally. 

'That lack of consistency undermines progress and it undermines our understanding of what these issues actually are,' she said.

'So it is very important to work towards getting a common, established consensus on what these issues are and how we respond.' 

She also said it's important that Australians to be informed about the reality of child sex abuse.

'I believe that if we continue working together as a community, educating through conversation through survivor informed education models, we can actually stop it from happening in first place.' 

More to follow. 

An emotional Ms Tame after being announced 2021 Australian of the Year on Monday

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