Australian of the Year Grace Tame has criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s rhetoric in the aftermath of Brittany Higgins’ Parliament rape allegations.
The 26-year-old appeared before the National Press Club on Tuesday – delivering a powerful speech addressing her own experience with sexual assault and the need for more action to help others.
Mr Morrison said he spoke with his wife Jenny after Ms Higgins, a former Liberal staffer, shared her distressing allegations of being raped inside a ministerial office in Parliament House.
“Jenny and I spoke last night and she said to me, you have to think about this as a father. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?” he told reporters at the time.
“Jenny has a way of clarifying things. Always has. And so, as I’ve reflected on that overnight and listened to Brittany and what she had to say.”
Asked about Mr Morrison’s response, Ms Tame said: “It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience.”
“And actually, on top of that, having children doesn’t guarantee a conscience,” she said.
Ms Tame used her speech to call for national reforms to address the challenges facing women coming forward with sexual assault allegations.
She said a uniform, national standard of sexual consent needed to be implemented to effectively teach this principle across Australia.
“To our government – our decision-makers, and our policymakers – we need reform on a national scale. Both in policy and education,” she said.
“To address these heinous crimes so they are no longer enabled to be perpetrated.
“It is so important for our nation, the whole world, in fact, to listen to survivors’ stories.”
Ms Tame was recognised with the Australian of the Year honour for her tireless advocacy, particularly her fight to overturn Tasmanian laws preventing survivors from speaking out.
More to come.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit http://1800RESPECT.org.au. Readers seeking support with mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at http://Beyondblue.org.au.
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