Grace Tame says Defence Force chief's 'prey' comment was unhelpful

Australian of the Year Grace Tame has reacted to the Chief of the Defence Force's comments. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Australian of the Year Grace Tame has reacted to the Chief of the Defence Force's comments. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Australian of the Year Grace Tame has labelled the comments by the Chief of the Defence Force that they should avoid making themselves "prey" as "unhelpful".

Ms Tame addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday, with a call to arms for Australians to speak up about child sexual abuse

Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell told cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy last week they should avoid making themselves "prey" to sexual assault by avoiding the "four As" - being attractive, out after midnight, alcohol and alone.

General Campbell has stood by the statement in a response from Defence to The Canberra Times.

"In his recent address to the new cohort of ADFA trainee officers, the CDF noted matters in the media regarding allegations of sexual harassment and assault," the statement said.

"In his view, being aware of the four As - young attractive people, noting the entire class fell into this risk factor, alcohol, after midnight and alone - enabled the group to recognise and mitigate the threat posed by abusive or predatory individuals."

Asked about the comments, Ms Tame said "I'm not judge, jury and executioner, but that's not helpful rhetoric at all".

"That feeds the idea that this is something that a victim has to foresee and stop themselves, if they're to blame. And that is really unhelpful."

Asked what would be helpful for the Chief of the Defence Force to say, Ms Tame said "I don't know, anything other than that!".

General Campbell has been roundly criticised for the comments, which advocates for sexual assault survivors say fuel victim blaming.

Acting Defence Minister Marise Payne said she believed General Campbell wasn't seeking to blame victims but should have chosen his words differently.

Senator Payne said the comments were "not the words I would have used, but at the same time I was not present".

"My message is that it is most important that those who would seek to be sexual predators don't - that they stop, and that that behaviour is unacceptable anywhere, anytime and in any circumstance," Senator Payne said.

"My message first and foremost is about stopping that behaviour."

Labor Senator Kristina Keneally said General Campbell had used "clumsy language" in trying to give advice to cadets.

"I know all organisations are struggling with culture, and these issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault," she said.

"I would invite Angus Campbell to reflect upon his language and to think about how he might better communicate."

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese said it was up to men to change behaviour, not women.

"Sexual violence is a scourge in our community and men have to take responsibility for changing their action and in terms of leadership, right throughout the community, people should feel safe," he said when asked about the comments.

"People should be able to go out at night and engage in the activity that people, including young people, will engage in, whether young women or men, on an equal basis."

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This story Grace Tame says Defence chief's 'prey' comment was unhelpful first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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