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Grace Tame breaks her silence after refusing to smile for Prime Minister Scott Morrison: “Wasn’t an act of martyrdom”

She's not backing down despite the media storm.

By Maddison Leach
Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of sexual abuse which may be triggering for some readers.
One week after photos of a grim-faced Grace Tame posing with Prime Minister Scott Morrison sent the nation into overdrive, the 2021 Australian of the Year has broken her silence.
Critics and supporters alike flocked to social media and news desks when photos emerged on January 27 of an unsmiling Grace standing beside the beaming Prime Minister at the Lodge in Canberra.
Both were attending the 2022 Australian of the Year awards morning tea with their partners Jenny Morrison and Max Heerey in tow, but their appearances couldn't have been more different.

While the PM and his wife smiled and laughed for the cameras, Grace and new fiancé Max kept their expressions stony, the 27-year-old even "side-eyeing" the Prime Minister.
The photos sparked immediate and impassioned responses, from other sexual abuse survivors lauding Grace for refusing to smile, to critics slamming the former Australian of the Year for being, in Peter van Onselen's words, "ungracious, rude and childish".
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday morning, childhood sexual assault survivor and activist Grace broke her silence and addressed the media storm that has surrounded the photos.
Grace Tame attends the 2022 Australian of the Year announcement. (Image: Getty)
"The survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders. It is dependent on hypocrisy," she wrote.
"My past is only relevant to the extent that I have seen—in fact I have worn—the consequences of civility for the sake of civility."
Grace continued: "What I did wasn't an act of martyrdom in the gender culture war. It's true that many women are sick of being told to smile, often by men, for the benefit of men.
"But it's not just women who are conditioned to smile and conform to the visibly rotting status-quo. It's all of us."
However, the PM had a very different reaction to his photo op with Grace, telling 4BC radio last week: "I haven't raised any issues about this."
Grace has spoken countless times about the importance of using our voices and platforms to decry predatory behaviours, outdated attitudes and sexual harassment and abuse.
Her latest comments are no different, suggesting that Australians must forego the polite "status quo" when it comes to issues of abuse and corruption.
The insightful young activist has been clear in her disappointment with how the Australian Government, led by Prime Minister Morrison, has handled the conversation and action (or, in some cases, inaction) around sexual abuse in the country.
Last year Grace spoke to The Weekly about her decision to speak out after being groomed and sexually abused by a school teacher when she was just 15.
WATCH: Grace Tame doesn't owe Scott Morrison a smile. Story continues after video.
"I wanted to educate people and shed more light," she said at the time, not long after being named Australian of the Year.
"So little was understood about the psychological manipulation, and what that does to victims and their families. So many victims have their families torn apart."
Though her time with that particular title has come to an end, passing the honour over to tennis star Dylan Alcott, Grace's work is far from finished.
With the personal and professional support of fiancé Max Heerey, the 27-year-old established the Grace Tame Foundation last year and continues to advocate for education, accountability and change around sexual abuse in Australia.
If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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