2021 Australian of the Year – Grace Tame

ADJOURNMENT´╗┐

Tuesday 2 March 2021´╗┐

Grace Tame – 2021 Australian of the Year

Brian Williams – 2021 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year

Toby Thorpe – 2021 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year

Edna Pennicott – Tasmania’s 2021 Local Hero

[8.25 p.m.]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin) – Madam Speaker, tonight I offer my congratulations and honour and applaud Grace Tame, who is a resident in my electorate of Franklin and was announced as our 2021 Australian of the Year.  It was an incredible and well-deserved recognition of her powerful advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and for highlighting that trauma does not discriminate, nor does it end when the abuse does.  Being the first Tasmanian to be named our Australian of the Year in the award’s 61-year history is also tremendous and a very fitting tribute to Grace’s extraordinary courage in championing the #Let Her Speak campaign.

What I admire personally, and I am sure everyone in this House does, is that Grace was determined to have a voice, which is why she spearheaded the #Let Her Speak campaign and became the first woman in Tasmania to be granted the legal right to talk publicly about her experience as a sexual abuse survivor.  Grace has been inspiring in raising public awareness of the impact of sexual violence in her fight for legal reform so that she could publicly name herself as a rape survivor, when previously only her abuser could speak publicly and she could not.  It takes immense courage and enormous bravery for survivors to speak out about their experiences.

In recognition of the courage and bravery of Grace and other survivors, I am proud that the Tasmanian Government and Minister for Justice, Ms Archer, amended – in fact all the members of this parliament amended – section 194K of the Evidence Act 2001 to provide victims the right to speak publicly.  As Grace said, ‘Publicly I was silenced by law.  Not anymore.’. 

I also commend and congratulate Grace on her inspirational and powerful acceptance speech.  When I watched her giving her outstanding speech, I, like everyone who was watching, got very teary and emotional, especially when Grace said:

I know who I am, I’m a survivor. A proud Tasmanian.

I remember him towering over me, blocking the door.

I remember him saying, ‘Don’t tell anybody.’

I remember him saying, ‘Don’t make a sound.’

Well hear me now. Using my voice, amongst a growing chorus of voices that will not be silenced.

Let’s make some noise, Australia.

I also commend and congratulate Grace for recognising and advocating for marginalised Australians by encouraging them to likewise tell their stories so they too will be seen and will be heard.  It is because of courageous and persevering Australians such as Grace that we can increase the quality, justice and support to build a stronger and more inclusive Tasmania and Australia.  Grace stands among a field of inspirational Australians with this prestigious award, and I look forward with anticipation to see the powerful difference and change that she makes over the next year and beyond to educate others and empower other survivors as every voice does matter.

I would also like to recognise and acknowledge Tasmania’s other 2021 Australians of the Year award winners who all, including Grace, came from my electorate of Franklin as well and of whom we are also very proud, including the 2021 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year, was respected scout leader, Brian Williams.  Brian’s mentoring of thousands of Tasmania’s young people, training and nurturing over 100 Venturer scout leaders, organising the inaugural Australian Venture and elevating Blackmans Bay Scout Group to be one of the largest and most successful scout groups in the state, is truly inspirational.  Brian’s significant devotion, leadership and contributions to scouts in Tasmania for over 50 years is an exceptional achievement.  My congratulations to Brian.

Our 2021 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year is youth empowerment and climate action leader, Toby Thorpe.  Toby’s inspirational advocacy for youth empowerment and climate action, including Huonville High School winning the international Zayed Sustainability Prize, has helped grow Tasmania’s reputation as a global leader in renewable energy innovation.  Toby’s many achievements, including organizing the first ever statewide climate leaders’ conference, leading the Tasmanian youth delegation as part of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and his role as Executive Director at the Climate Justice Initiative, are all tremendous accolades and made him a very worthy recipient of this award.

Lastly, but by no means least is Tasmania’s 2021 Local Hero and the founder of Kingborough Helping Hands, a one of a kind and one of the most inspirational women any of us can ever meet and that is Edna Pennicott.  Edna’s significant passion, dedication and generosity that is actively demonstrated by her personally collecting and delivering care packages of food and other essential items to people facing financial hardship is indeed outstanding.

It was therefore rightly fitting for Edna to receive such a tremendous accolade for founding Kingborough Helping Hands and for over four years providing caring, dedicated service, including the after-hours mobile van service to the most vulnerable members of the community.  I have had the honour and the privilege to go out with Edna, late at night.  The amazing thing about Edna, she does this night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year and she is an incredible woman. 

I congratulate Edna, Brian, Toby, and Grace.  They are all worthy recipients of being Tasmanian Australians of the Year and I wish them all the best for the coming year.