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Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame says criticism has been ‘indefensibly cruel’

Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame has opened up on the “indefensibly cruel” attacks she has endured as a public figure and its toll on her mental health.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia women’s leadership event, Ms Tame said she didn’t take her platform as an advocate for abuse survivors lightly.

“I’m very aware of the fact it’s a great privilege to be heard and a privilege very few get,” she told the event on Tuesday night.

“First Nations people, people who have disabilities, migrants and other further marginalised people face even greater barriers to justice and in fact in some cases, their paths to justice are impossible – let’s be real.”

However, she conceded her “journey has not been easy”.

“Some of the criticism that I receive, it’s part and parcel of being in a public space, but at times it is indefensibly cruel, and the toll on our mental health, not just my own, is … I can’t really describe it because unless you’ve been in that space, it’s hard to relate to,” she said.

2021 Australians of the Year Announcement
Camera IconGrace Tame accepts her 2021 Australian of The Year Award. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Ms Tame recently revealed that in the wake of recent media storms including over her drug use as a teenager, she went to the emergency room to seek mental health treatment.

The childhood sexual abuse survivor on Tuesday revealed she stayed grounded and held onto meaningful values to sustain her in her advocacy role, but “sometimes that’s almost impossible to do when you’re pulled in all these different directions”.

“You’ve got all these different people telling you should do this and do that and putting unrealistic demands on your time and your energy and criticism is coming from even within the sector that you work in, which is disheartening to say the least,” she said.

“There are many people who came before me whose work has paved the way for people like myself.

“It is important to be able to hold space for criticism and to hold each other to account.

“But ultimately, if we spend a disproportionate amount of time tearing each other down, the people who will benefit from that are the perpetrators.”

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