Monday, 13 November 2023
Morning Tea for survivors of sexual abuse
Welcome to Government House to mark the second anniversary of National Survivors’ Day, which takes place tomorrow, on 14 November.
Acclaimed writer Arundhati Roy, winner of the Booker Prize, once said:
“There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
This morning we gather to acknowledge those who have made themselves heard, the survivors of sexual assault and institutional abuse, both in South Australia and around our country.
We gather to acknowledge the pain and trauma they have gone through, and may continue to experience, and to celebrate their strength and courage.
Most importantly, we gather to support survivors who were forced into silence as part of their abuse, by perpetrators and also by organisations and institutions seeking to protect themselves.
Silence is damaging not only because it protects perpetrators, but because it encourages shame in those they hurt.
To survivors, I say: I hear you, I believe you, and I stand with you.
The shame is not yours to carry.
Thank you to those of you who have spoken up, who have bravely shared your stories, who have sought or are seeking justice, and who offer support to your fellow survivors.
I respect your fortitude, which is no doubt greater than many of us will ever comprehend.
As a community it is encouraging to see, in recent years, the issues of sexual assault and institutional abuse being discussed more openly in the media and broader public discourse.
Nonetheless these are difficult conversations to have.
In some ways, it is human nature to ignore or deny the uncomfortable realities of life. To avoid feeling pain by looking away.
I thank everyone here this morning for making a different decision: for choosing to embrace our nation’s survivors, to supporting their healing and to working tirelessly towards reducing abuse rates in our communities.
As representatives from religious institutions, government, the law, and not-for-profit organisations, you all have diverse yet equally important roles to play in this sphere.
I thank you for your commitment to creating a better state and country for us all.
In particular I thank the In Good Faith Foundation and LOUDFence for creating and running National Survivors’ Day across Australia, and for the respective work they do supporting survivors and advocating on their behalf in the broader community.
I wish you all a meaningful day tomorrow, and I look forward to lending my future support as we walk a path of healing and prevention together.