Australian of the Year Grace Tame has pleaded for Australia to introduce national reforms to aid survivors of sexual assault.
In a powerful speech to the nation’s National Press Club Wednesday, Tame called for the creation of a nationally-recognised definition of consent and criticised Australia's Parliament for allowing a "coverup culture" and "abuse of power" to exist within its halls.
"To our government — our decision-makers and our policymakers — we need reform on a national scale. Both in policy and education," Tame, who was named Australian of the Year in January for her work helping overturn victim gag laws in Tasmania, told reporters.
As a childhood sexual assault survivor, Tame also highlighted the significance of normalising conversations around child sexual abuse, establishing a "consistent national framework" that supports survivors and ensuring a greater understanding of the often subtle forms grooming can take.
"The more we come out and speak about this, the more the conversation will be normalised,” she said.
Her speech comes just days after two rape allegations against prominent politicians and parliament staffers came to a head.
The allegations show the horrific way women can be treated in politics, Tame said, while the way those in power have dealt with complaints highlights how society is set up to foster, enable, promote and excuse the actions of male perpetrators.
“It’s not surprising to me at all. Coverup culture, the abuse of power, is not unique to Parliament,” she said.
Tame also took aim at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his comments surrounding the allegations.
Morrison said his wife Jenny suggested he view the rape allegations made by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgens against her male colleague from the perspective of a father.
"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, according to SBS News. “Jenny has a way of clarifying things. Always has. And so, I’ve reflected on that overnight and listened to Brittany and what she had to say.”
According to Tame, “it shouldn't take having children to have a conscience."
In response to a journalist's question, Tame said she believed Morrison was "clearly not" creating an atmosphere where survivors are believed, a culture he previously promised to work toward.