Grace Tame calls for consistency around sexual violence laws

Activist Grace Tame has called for national consistency around the language in sexual violence and consent laws.

CW: sexual violence.

Australian of the Year Grace Tame took to the virtual stage on day two of the National Summit on Women’s Safety to call for consistency between Australian states and territories on sexual abuse and domestic violence laws.

Ms Tame told the summit she would soon be meeting with attorney-generals from across Australia’s different jurisdictions to address disparities in their laws.

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins Women's Safety Summit
Image: Grace Tame on Twitter

Currently we have nine jurisdictions with nine very different definitions of consent…we have nine different definitions of the age of consent to sex, and we have nine different definitions of sexual intercourse itself,” she told the summit.

And we wonder why we don’t have a consistent, solid understanding of each of these concepts.”

According to SBS, Ms Tame affirms that laws must not provide perpetrators with loopholes to avoid accountability for their crimes:

A question that we all have to ask [is] where are the examples of language that we use that softens the reality and therefore enables and emboldens perpetrators?

The summit aimed to bring together advocates, experts, and survivors to help inform the next national plan to reduce violence against women and their children.

The topics discussed included preventing family and sexual violence, coercive control, financial abuse, early intervention, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences, and policing and justice responses.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in his opening address:

It is not a new problem and it is not a simple problem. But Australia does have a problemToo many Australian women do not feel safe and too often, they are not safe and that is not okay. There is no excuse, and sorry doesn’t cut it.”

Saxon Mullins, the director of advocacy at Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy, labelled Morrison’s speech as “offensive“, especially after the government responded to only six of 12 recommendations from Kate Jenkins’ [email protected] report.

It’s so hypocritical and reductive to virtually stand in front of survivors and experts and say, ‘Oh, we really need to do something about this’,” she said.

The [email protected] report, published in 2020, aims to provide a new framework for the prevention and reporting of sexual harassment and outline current legal and regulatory systems that can be improved.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Tame was asked if the Prime Minister had failed.

Yes,” she said.

She said that the failure to implement all of the recommendations from the [email protected] report was part of a “clear pattern of denial, minimisation, ultimately dismissal of women’s issues”.