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Using her platform to fight for change in her sister’s honour

The 2019 Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist's Award winner, Virginia Tapscott, recognised again as a top achiever.

By Kate Banville

Virginia Tapscott’s life was sent into a devastating spin on June 18 2020 when her sister died from a drug overdose after repeated sexual abuse both as a child and teenager. 

While dealing with unimaginable personal grief, Tapscott has been fighting for change to honour her sister Dr Alexandra Tapp known as Ally by loved ones.

This advocacy has earnt Tapscott a nomination in The Australian newspaper’s Australian of the Year Awards, which has been recognising top achievers since 1971.

Based in regional NSW, the freelance journalist was named the Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist’s Award in 2019. 

Now she’s determined to use her platform to speak for the voiceless, which has prompted other survivors to come forward and report their abuse to police.

It has resulted in at least one arrest so far.

Through a series of gripping articles in The Australian, Tapscott has focused national attention on the issue.

“Without Women in Media, I wouldn’t have been in a position to get my piece published and the platform to have this conversation.”

Virginia Tapscott

“I still feel a bit strange about everything and I guess the nomination says something about where the issue sits in people’s minds now and something that people take seriously. 

“I’m happy for it to be something in the public view and keep it there for as long as possible.

“I look at my three kids and I’m no statistician but to me that says I’ve got three in five chances of my children experiencing sexual harm before 18 and to me that’s just completely unacceptable.”

Tapscott said she was in great company with every person on The Australian’s nomination list fighting tirelessly for worthy causes.

For Tapscott, this work will never end.

“When you feel like you can take action and do something –  thats the only relief we get at the moment,” she said. 

“I think the law reforms and all other reforms need to come from cultural change because the decision makers in courts, in police and parliament are just a reflection of what society thinks.

“We are stuck in a goody baddy narrative and it’s very complex and we need to attack it with everything we’ve got and when talking about the perpetrators and providing support it’s about prevention because I don’t want this to ever happen again.”

If this article causes distress, support is available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732. 

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