Tame's fight 'for as long as it takes'

Georgie MooreAAP
Outgoing Australian of the Year Grace Tame stands stony faced next to the prime minister.
Camera IconOutgoing Australian of the Year Grace Tame stands stony faced next to the prime minister. Credit: AAP

Grace Tame ensured her final hours as Australian of the Year were neither quiet or forgettable.

The child sexual abuse survivor, and advocate for women and children, has been a vocal and sustained critic of the Morrison government's track record.

Tuesday's morning tea ahead of the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards was no exception.

Ms Tame stood, stony faced, next to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny for an obligatory photo opportunity at The Lodge in Canberra.

She reluctantly shook Mr Morrison's hand without meeting the prime minister's eyes.

The exchange led LNP senator James McGrath to label Ms Tame "partisan, political and childish".

"The important issues raised by last year's Australian of the Year must continue to be addressed by all of us," he wrote on Facebook.

"It is a pity her behaviour and attacks on our prime minister are so partisan, political and childish.

"If she didn't like being Australian of the Year she should hand back the honour."

Liberal senator Hollie Hughes tweeted Ms Tame's demeanour during the brief meeting was "immature".

But former Liberal MP-turned Morrison government critic, Julia Banks, saw it differently.

"Grace ... is the only person in this photo who lives her life with honesty, integrity and empathy," Ms Banks wrote as she tweeted the photo.

Hours later, Ms Tame outlined her next steps - "with the creatively named Grace Tame Foundation" - as she handed over her Australian of the Year title to wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott.

"I'm standing on the shoulders of giants and I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Australia who have been continuing this conversation for a such a long time and for embracing the message last year," she said.

Her foundation has the "overarching goal of ending the sexual abuse of children and others ... pursuing that specifically through structural change, so education, and legal reform".

"That's what we'll be doing for as long as it takes to achieve that goal."

The past year was marked by a series of political fiascos for the Morrison government when it came to the treatment of women.

This including former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins going public about her alleged 2019 rape by a colleague in a federal minister's office.

The coalition was roundly criticised for failing to pass all legislative reforms recommended by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

The commissioner's review of federal parliament's workplace culture painted a damning picture after one-third of people surveyed said they had been sexually harassed.

As the sitting year drew to a close, cabinet minister Alan Tudge was forced to stand aside over allegations of emotional and physical abuse from his former staffer Rachelle Miller.

The allegations are subject to an ongoing investigation by the prime minister's department.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese thanked Ms Tame for her "quite extraordinary courage and her fierce advocacy".

"You've inspired countless Australians and you've earned enormous respect," he said during an address to the National Press Club.

"The events that occurred in parliament ... constituted a powerful wake-up call."

"But we've had so many wake-up calls. We have no excuse to wait for another."

Ms tame paid tribute to her "partner in love and life", Max, whose support she thinks has earned him a nomination for Australian of the Year.

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