How’s that Grace Tame, eh!
What a stunner. Amazing Tasmanian Grace – you little beauty!
Did you see Our Australian of the Year pack her punches up on that podium? You go, our woman of strength and power! You change this world! You take paternalistic domination and imperialism and shake that thing in the power of your strong grit till the love falls out.
With your story, you fill us with the compassion to bring our tenderness to victims of violation, large and large (there is no small), and hear them. You strengthen us with strong, secure words and robust hearts to do as you have done and call-out dishonour. You share with us muscular, enduring courage to lift the covers of the dark places, shine light in there, and in collective togetherness, help you sweep the filthy dust of ugly, smug, self-satisfying domination off the face of the earth.
In his poem The Gift, William Stafford wrote:
Time wants to show you a different country. It’s the one
that your life conceals, the one
when curtains are drawn…
the composting of where you’ve been,
and how people and weather treated you. It’s a
country where you already are, bringing where you
You have lived these words, Grace Tame.
You stand now in hardship-composted. May you draw on this friable, enriched, and sweetened output of the workings of time and sun and earth and crap, to grow, and to yield fruit for your life. And we thank you for the fruit, bearing seed, that you also share with us. From innocent victim of grooming and sexual assault, to empowered Australian of the Year! It’s taken the full 61 years of this award’s history for one of ours, a Tasmanian, to receive this honour. Congratulations to the sky, Grace! Then further on, to the shining stars!
And the timing is perfect. We need this nation-wide conversation about violation and domination. Grace’s was sexual assault, but already she is telling the bigger story of domination – linking to the oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We need this nation-wide conversation about what is to be done in our hearts, in our entrenched and un-reflected ways of thinking about the way things are. And then to use the connections forged in this conversation to reach together, as a nation of Australians, to the way things could be.
We need this conversation about our blind-spots and assumptions. About cruelty when we see it. And cruelty when we do it. Because we do. (We don’t need to.)
We need this conversation about the tenderness with which we must raise our children. And about how we parents, and grandparents, need to own what we perpetuate in our children. And not perpetuate harm, anymore. (We can do this. Yes, we can. Through courageous conversation and shared relational time.)
And of course, we need this conversation about the perpetuation of trauma through our policies, structures, and institutions, if we fail to examine them in the light poured into their corners through Grace’s brave story.
Our 2021 Australian of the Year is helping us all reprise the work that has begun to swell in our country about non-domination.
Let’s be courageous and help her expand this conversation by joining in with it over our dinner tables and our beers.
And being Grace’s Tasmanian community, we have a not inconsiderable responsibility to care for Grace. To use words that do not cut this beautiful poppy standing tall in the crap-turned-compost. She bears fruit for new highs in our Tasmanian community. Let us care for this flower in the garden of our Tasmania. Let us water and weed only with kindness. Indeed, let us do these things with grace.
So, Grace Tame, 2021 Australian of the Year, we honour you in everything.
We honour your broken heart and lost years. And we honour your healing. We honour your example of ‘Survivor’. And its transformation to ‘Flourisher’. We honour your courage, your grit, and the longevity of your determination. We honour the wisdom you have grown through your suffering. And all that is still growing in you. We honour other victims, who will be strengthened by your voice and the reverberations its resonances set resounding within us. And we honour the many through our histories who have suffered and died with the horrors and weights of their agonies unacknowledged.
Thank you for hitting ‘refresh’ on history’s page.
First published in The Mercury Newspaper, 27th January 2021.