Illawarra women’s advocate Sally Stevenson says Grace Tame’s Australia of the Year an award for all victims

Illawarra Mercury – Julian O’Brien

Change is coming.

That is the message from Illawarra Women’s Health Centre general manager Sally Stevenson on the back of Tasmanian sexual assault survivor Grace Tame being named Australian of the Year.

Ms Tame was the catalyst for the #LetHerSpeak campaign and won a Supreme Court order which overturned archaic Tasmanian legislation which gags sexual assault victims being identified and being heard.

“I’m absolutely delighted and encouraged about the way that Grace will be able to use this as a platform to continue her incredible advocacy and continue to ensure the voices of child sexual abuse survivors are central change,” Ms Stevenson said.

“What the (Tasmanian) laws did was they reflected the perpetual systemic abuse of survivors. By lifting this and enabling this voice, and listening, is fundamental to shifting away the blame from victims. It allows women to be liberated.”

Ms Stevenson said recognition of the voices of victims will be particularly relevant as NSW parliament debates legislation to criminalise coercive control and indeed our own region’s push to establish an Australian-first women’s trauma recovery centre for victims of domestic or family violence.

“The voices of victims and survivors should be central to the design of new systems and that’s what we’ve done with the design of the women’s trauma recovery centre,” Ms Stevenson.

“As we did with exhibition.”

The exhibition Ms Stevenson refers to is Resistance. Resilience. Recovery. launched in Wollongong late last year.

The exhibition, which features images by the Mercury‘s photographer Sylvia Liber of family and domestic abuse survivors, is on display in Stocklands Shellharbour.

Under Tasmanian legislation that exhibition would never have been possible.

“Grace’s award has amplified the voice of survivors and they are essential to discussions of change,” Ms Stevenson said.

“Also importantly it has done exactly the same for the voices of girls and young women.

“The voices of young people are often dismissed and disregarded, but we need to listen. Grace represents an incredibly bright future.”

Please visit to join the #VoicesForChange trauma centre campaign.