Grace Tame Has Proposed 3 Changes To Our Sexual Abuse Laws & They’re Well Overdue

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At least half of all women in Australia have experienced sexual harassment, abuse or violence. That’s 1 in 2 that has been sexually harassed, 1 in 3 that has been physically abused and 1 in 5 that has been sexually abused. Let that sink in. With #FiredUp, Refinery29 Australia makes an ongoing commitment to spotlighting this serious and pervasive issue with the goal of dismantling gendered violence in Australia.
Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault in a way that may be distressing to some readers
Sexual assault survivor Grace Tame has called for consistent sexual abuse legislation across all jurisdictions, saying justice shouldn't look different depending on which state or territory you live in.
The 26-year-old met with the country's Attorneys-General on Friday to officially kick off her Harmony Campaign, which proposes three things to become uniform across the board:
1. The age of consent
2. The definition of sexual intercourse
3. The name of child sexual abuse offences
Describing her campaign's objective being to achieve "harmonisation of sexual assault legislation", Tame said making terminology consistent is crucial because "we rely on language to communicate the truth and eliminate spin."
The Australian of the Year recipient recalled her own experience reporting sexual abuse at a young age, learning at the time that perpetrators could receive different punishments in different states or territories.
"Legal loopholes and inconsistencies benefit perpetrators, who are often aware of them and factor them into their calculated behaviour and defences," she wrote on Twitter.
"Such inconsistencies also undermine our ability as a nation to understand and teach the foundations of right and wrong."

Inconsistencies Across States And Territories

Currently, there are eight different jurisdictions with different legal definitions and different punishments for different offences.
Tame's own abuser was charged by authorities in Tasmania with maintaining a sexual relationship with a person under the age of 17. In January Tame was named Australian of the Year 2021, recognised for fighting to overturn laws in Tasmania preventing sexual assault survivors from speaking out. Her advocacy also helped in renaming the offence the persistent sexual abuse of a child.
Now she's calling on Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and ACT to do the same.
"It's just disgusting and wrong to use the word relationship, as a start, to describe abuse," she told AAP.
"And the word 'maintaining' sort of has implications that the criminality is in the continuation of something that a perpetrator didn't necessarily instigate."
Tame's campaign launch comes after she recently spoke about having a platform for activism and advocacy that most survivors don't have.
"Unfortunately, my own experience of support systems, of the justice system is not a model to refer to," she said at the National Women's Safety Summit in September.
"I'm sitting here as someone who's somewhat of an anomaly, you know, that I've got to this point being a lived experience survivor to have a platform like I do. That's very rare."
Tame said a holistic approach needs to be adopted, where it's not only survivors who are part of the conversation, but also experts and policy changemakers contributing to the discussion.
She said "the onus is not on us to be the victims of the system, the victims of the crime and then also going, 'We've got all the answers.'"
"We need an approach that is not siloed, we need to be recognising that there are policy and decision-makers, experts, as well as lived experience survivors who need to participate in the discussion."
If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual or domestic violence and is in need of support, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), the National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Service.

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