Grace Tame’s impact on people with their own stories of survival has been laid bare in this tear-jerking new documentary.
After winning the right to identify herself as a victim of child sexual abuse, Grace Tame has emerged as a beacon of hope for an entire generation.
The 2021 Australian of the Year rose to prominence via News Corp’s #LetHerSpeak campaign in 2019, after winning her legal case to be able to publicly self-identify as a rape survivor to the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
At the time, it was against the law for many sexual assault survivors in Tasmania to speak out under their own names due to an archaic victim gag law.
Since her introduction, Tame has witnessed the impact her courage has had on everyday people in many ways.
But the public has now been let in on that journey with the intimate new Foxtel documentary, Walking With Hope, which premiered on Fox Docos tonight.
Led by veteran TV journalist Melissa Doyle, Tame gathers a group of women, all with their own stories of survival, to connect on a 15km hike in Sydney’s south.
All participants have something in common. They are dedicated in their pursuit to speak openly about their hardships off the back of Tame’s relentless pioneering.
“As human beings we’re exposed to all different kinds of darkness, all different forms of trauma, and that’s one of the things that unites us,” Tame tells Doyle.
While the doco largely focuses on all women and their tales of triumph, Tame gives a rare glimpse into her relationship with fellow Tasmanian Max Heerey, who she met last year.
“He completes me. He’s just my soulmate,” she says. “Plain and simple. There’s not much more to it.”
In the one-hour special, we first meet 16-year-old Chantel Dexter, who is recovering from severe anorexia which began when she was just nine years old.
It was so serious, she ended up in hospital on multiple occasions.
“I’d gone through a bit of trauma with my dad, he had a new partner. I was bullied through school because of the way I looked. I don’t know why I thought starving myself was the only way,” Chantel tells Doyle.
Also on the walk is 11-year-old Lilly Nixon, who is supporting her grandmother, Carrie Bond, whose son Darcy died by suicide last year aged 22.
A uni student and keen Oz Tag player, Darcy’s world was rocked when his father died and Covid-19 thwarted his sporting pursuits.
Ms Bond believes he made an impulsive decision to take his own life under the influence of drugs and alcohol in August last year.
“Nobody saw any sign of anything, unless he just, you know, completely masked it,” Ms Bond says. “But I, we just won’t know.”
Asked by Doyle how parents would know what’s going on with their children if there’s no signs, and no conversation, Ms Bond urged people to be observant.
“You know when, in a party situation, when people start going off in groups or going into the bathroom in groups, you know what’s going on,” she says.
“You can look into their eyes, and you can tell when there’s altered personalities. So just be very observant, and vigilant.”
Ms Bond has found great strength in airing her story, saying support from others has given her the courage to persevere.
“You don’t give up. Life is too precious. You have to have a lot of resilience to be able to move forward from something like [this].”
Also among the faces in the documentary are Alice Peel and Kristina Freeman, two women who founded the Grow Your Mind program which teaches young kids mental health resilience.
Tame says these initiatives are key to encouraging communication from childhood, through to adulthood.
“It all starts with conversation, and through conversation, that’s where we develop our understanding of things,” Tame says. “And from understanding, we can properly inform education. It normalises it, it takes the power away from negativity and takes the fear away.
“When you understand something, that’s when you can break down that fear.”
Tame adds: “I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that having strength and admitting weakness aren’t mutually exclusive practices.
“In fact, there’s great strength to be drawn from showing weakness and vulnerability.”
Walking With Hope streams on Foxtel
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