Grace Tame, who took on the law over rape silencing, has been named Australian of the Year for 2021. She is the first Tasmanian to be named Australian of the Year. After a sexual assault at the age of 15, she was unable to speak about her experience due to Tasmania’s sexual assault victim gag laws. Ms Tame ultimately applied to the Supreme Court for the right to publicly self-identify as a rape survivor and won. Her case is one of those that has prompted the Tasmanian government to reconsider the gag law, for which it is now taking community submissions. Ms Tame has continued to use her media profile to advocate for other vulnerable groups in the community. In her acceptance speech she said she was focused on empowering survivors and using education to prevent child sex abuse.
(1800 RESPECT is the national sexual assault and domestic and family violence counselling service on 1800 737 732)
Dr Miriam-Rose Ungumerr Baumann (AM) of Daly River in the Northern Territory was named Senior Australian of the Year.
Dr Baumann, 73, is an Aboriginal activist, educator and artist who in 1975 became the NT’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher. She campaigned for years for visual art to become part of every child’s education, and has served on the National Indigenous Council. In 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation, which drives grassroots reconciliation. to bridge the divide between Aboriginal culture and the rest of Australia.
Dr Baumann said, “We have lived in this great country for many thousands of years and 200 years ago we began to interact with whitefellas. And now, Australia has become multicultural. Since then we have adapted to a new way of living. We learnt to speak your English fluently. For years, we have walked on a one-way street to learn the white people’s way. I’ve learnt to walk in two worlds and live in towns and cities, and even worked in them. Now is the time for you to come closer to understand us and how – and to understand how we live, and listen to what needs are in our communities. When you come to visit or work in our communities and leave your comfort zones, I ask that you bring your knowledge and wisdom, but we ask you also to learn and understand how we live and function in our communities, and listen to what our needs are.”
The Young Australian of the Year was tonight revealed to be 22-year-old social entrepreneur Isobel Marshall.
Isobel is a full-time student at the University of Adelaide, where she is studying medicine and surgery. She was just 18 when she co-founded women’s organisation TABOO with school friend Eloise Hall. The pair crowdfunded $56,000 to launch their range of hygiene products in August 2019, selling organic cotton pads and tampons to Australian buyers, with all profits going to One Girls, a charity that provides education programs for girls and women in Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Ms Hall said, “Menstrual products should be accessible, affordable, not a luxury or a choice. But the reality is one in every 10 girls around the world can’t afford menstrual products and culture stigma forces women and girls to isolate the days they bleed.”
She called on all Australians to join the cause. “Firstly, let’s change the conversation around menstruation. Those on your period, expect respect in place of shame and be proud of what your body can do. Families and teachers, invest in creating an environment that understands the importance and the strength of the menstrual cycle, and don’t shy away from the conversation. And, of course, let’s all commit to fighting period poverty around the world.” TABOO also provides free hygiene products to Vinnies Women’s Crisis Centre, for women in need of emergency accommodation in South Australia.
Migrant and refugee advocate Rosemary Kariuki was named Australia’s Local Hero. The 60-year-old – the subject of 2020 documentary Rosemary’s Way.
She arrived in Australia from Kenya in 1999, fleeing family abuse and tribal clashes. Her early lonely years in Australia made her realise how isolated migrant and refugee women could be – with many unused to going out alone, having no transport, and struggling to speak English. “It took me a while to feel like this country is home”.
Ms Kariuki encourages women to become involved with the community, creating with the African Women’s Group the annual African Women’s Dinner Dance, which attracts a crowd of hundreds. She also ran the African Village Market, which helped migrants and refugees start their own business. Currently she is the multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Local Area Command, specialising in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.
She urged people to embrace Australia’s multiculturalism.
“Together we can make this wonderful country that I call home even greater. So let us share what we know and give each a helping hand. Let us embrace our multicultural nation, more building on it and looking for the opportunities and positives. I would like to encourage every one of you to meet someone new from a different background this coming week and see what doors open to you.”
National Australia Day Council chairperson Danielle Roche (OAM) congratulated the recipients. “Grace, Miriam-Rose, Isobel and Rosemary are all committed to changing attitudes in our society and changing lives. They are strong, determined women who are dedicated to breaking down barriers and advocating for people’s rights – particularly the rights of women and children.”
Inspiring women! Inspiration for us all!!
(Text sourced from Channel 9 news report, 25 January 2021)
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God bless. Peace be with you [Editor]