Grace Tame has been named 2021 Australian of the Year for her advocacy work for survivors of sexual assault, particularly those who were abused in institutional settings.
The 26-year-old Tasmanian fought against the state’s sexual assault victim gag laws. The laws prohibited her from speaking out against the man who groomed and raped her, despite the perpetrator – her maths teacher, who was found guilty – and the media being able to do so freely.
She took her fight for her right to publicly self-identify as a rape survivor all the way to the Supreme Court where she was ultimately successful.
Aboriginal activist, educator and artist Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann from the Northern Territory was named 2021 Senior Australian of the Year.
The 73-year-old Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu became the Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in 1975. She visited schools to advocate for the inclusion of art in the education curriculum. In 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation to bridge the divide between Aboriginal culture and mainstream society, driving reconciliation at a grassroots level.
Isobel Marshall, a 22-year-old social entrepreneur from Adelaide, was named 2021 Young Australian of the Year. She co-founded TABOO four years ago with her school friend Eloise Hall. The organisation helps women around the world by breaking down the stigma around menstruation. They crowdfunded $56,000 to help provide greater access to hygiene products.
Australia’s Local Hero for 2021 is Rosemary Kariuki of Oran Park, an advocate for migrant and refugee women.
The 60-year-old works as a multicultural community liaison officer for Sydney’s Parramatta Police and specialises in helping migrants facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.
In 1999, she escaped family abuse and tribal clashes by fleeing Kenya alone.
Chair of the National Australia Day Council, Danielle Roche, lauded the award recipients for their work towards shifting societal attitudes 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,” Ms Roche said.
“They epitomise the Australian values of respect, tolerance, equality of opportunity and compassion. Because of them, others get a fair go.”
Nominations for the 2022 Australian of the Year are now open.