‘Highly Dangerous, Incredibly Ironic’: Grace Tame Weighs In On ‘Fake Psychologist’ Bettina Arndt AM.


The young woman at the centre of growing calls to strip Bettina Arndt AM of her Australia Day honours has described revelations that the social commentator has, for decades, been widely misrepresented in media as a ‘psychologist’, ‘clinical’ psychologist’ and even a ‘doctor’ as “highly dangerous” and “incredibly ironic”.

It follows the publication of an extensive investigation published by New Matilda on January 28. 

In a video interview released today on New Matilda’s Youtube channel, Grace Tame, now aged 24 and living in the United States, has labelled Ms Arndt’s false portrayal as not only inaccurate but “highly dangerous”.

WATCH: Survivor Grace Tame, the woman at the centre of calls to strip Bettina Arndt AM of her Australia Day honours, responds to revelations the social media commentator’s qualifications have been misrepresented in the media for decades.

Ms Tame was aged 15 in 2010, when she was groomed and then repeatedly sexually assaulted over a period of six months by her teacher, Nicolaas Bester, aged 58. Bester was convicted and jailed for the rapes, and also for possessing 28 pieces of child pornography. He was later sent back to prison for producing child exploitation material after boasting on Facebook about the rapes of Ms Tame, describing the abuse in graphic and lewd detail. 

In a sympathetic 17-minute interview with Bester uploaded in 2017, Ms Arndt accused Ms Tame of engaging in “sexually provocative behaviour” adding that school girls “should not exploit their seductive powers to ruin the lives of men”.

The video interview sparked widespread outrage at the time. That anger was re-ignited last month after Ms Arndt was awarded an AM in the Australia Day honours, with Ms Tame telling news.com.au she opposed Ms Arndt being awarded an AM.

“Honouring someone who actively defended a paedophile on a public platform is a blatant example of the protracted, systemic moral corruption that still hampers our society,” Ms Tame told news.com.au.

“We will not let such a clear case of rewarding bad behaviour deter or enfeeble us. It is precisely this manner of injustice that strengthens our collective courage and motivation as survivors to share our experiences.”

Bettina Arndt AM, in her 2017 video interview with convicted paedophile Nicolaas Bester, suggesting school girls “should not exploit their seductive powers to ruin the lives of men”.

In her video interview with New Matilda, Ms Tame said Ms Arndt’s false promotion as a psychologist, clinical psychologist and doctor was ironic, and dangerous.

“It’s incredibly ironic that victims so often get accused of lying and now it’s become apparent that Bettina has been lying for decades,” Ms Tame said.

“It’s a pretty big concern because people put a lot of stock in the opinions and advice of people who are supposedly experts. 

“She’s going around… calling herself a professional, registered psychologist. People take the words of people like that as gospel and don’t think to question it because they don’t think they have to.

“It’s very dangerous. It’s highly dangerous.”

Ms Tame said she had “no interest in name calling” or “vitriol” and would be “more than happy to have a constructive conversation” with Ms Arndt in the interests of education and information.

Ms Arndt has strongly denied deliberately misleading people about her qualifications, although she has conceded the cover of her 2009 international best-selling book The Sex Diaries falsely described her as a “clinical psychologist” and a “psychologist” with 35-years experience. She has also conceded that she often did not correct media if they falsely described her, because it would take up too much valuable time in interviews, and because she had “better things to do”, like running campaigns defending the rights of men. 

WATCH: A montage of Australian media falsely representing Bettina Arndt AM as a psychologist, clinical psychologist and a doctor.

Over the weekend, Ms Tame also renewed her calls for Ms Arndt to be stripped of her Australia Day honour, with a Facebook post on her personal page headed, ‘A Call To Action’. 

“This issue is not about individuals. It is not about the Governor General. It is not about the honouree. And it is certainly not about me. It never has been.

“It is about something much greater: the very reason I ever sought a voice in the first place. It is about the ongoing corrupt culture of abuse of power.

“That one of the highest honours in our country was bestowed on a person who has persistently acted as a vocal agent of this corrupt culture – while misrepresenting their professional credentials for decades – shows just how much work there is yet to be.”

Ms Tame detailed a long list of bullet points, outlining the case for why Ms Arndt should be stripped of her AM.

“It is impossible to overstate the value of truth. Pertinent facts to be considered here are that the honouree:

• has allowed herself to be falsely represented for decades, in my opinion to gain credit and impetus for her cause.
• shifted the focus to defaming journalists when faced with the facts of her misrepresented credentials.
• devalues the profession of psychology through consistent and unlawful use of unbestowed academic titles. She has never been a registered psychologist in any state or territory as required by Australian law for 31 years, yet:
• Her 2009 edition of The Sex Diaries states on the cover that the author is a “clinical psychologist…”
• In 2018 she credited herself as a psychologist when promoting national university presentations….”

Ms Tame also took aim specifically at Ms Arndt’s representation of the abuse she suffered as a school girl.

“[Ms Arndt] ‘grossly misrepresented me and the details of my case, describing me as a ‘provocative teenager’, falsely claiming to have read ‘all the facts’.

“Those words are nowhere in Justice Helen Wood’s six-page comments on passing sentence. This document is publicly accessible. It does state, however, that I had been diagnosed with anorexia, was vulnerable and emotionally fragile.

“It states that my abuser agreed, in a court of law, to taking advantage of a vulnerable child.

“It also states that as a result of the abuse I was isolated from my support network and did not know how to extricate myself.”

Ms Tame said Ms Arndt “publicly mocked one woman’s harrowing account of rape, describing it as ‘regret sex’” and noted that that in the interview with Bester, Ms Arndt allowed him to “excuse [his]possession of child pornography”. 

Twice-convicted paedophile Nicolaas Bester laughs and jokes with Bettina Arndt AM as he describes how he went back to prison a second time for producing child exploitation material, which included lewd and graphic details of his multiple rapes of 15-year-old school girl Grace Tame.

Ms Tame then issues a direct appeal to the people responsible for awarding Ms Arndt an AM.

“There is no honour in hatred. There is no honour in willingly victimizing and shaming innocent, vulnerable individuals. There is no honour in championing a cause that comes at the expense of another.

“The upshot of celebrating individuals who minimise such heinous crimes as paedophilia and rape, is the protracted perpetuation of victim-blaming and abuse itself.

“It reinforces our collective ignorance of the truth, which results in apathy and inaction.

“Not only does this have deleterious consequences for individual lives, it casts a dark shadow over our national identity. It undermines our values of community, strength and progress.

“The cost is immeasurable but it is also reparable. Mistakes can be corrected.

“And so, to the powers that be, I appeal to your humanity. I implore you to see reason and ask that you consider reversing your actions.”

*Ed’s note: Thanks to Grace Tame, for her patience and courage; Hobart-based videographer Ashley Bartholomew for his expertise; and as always to Marque Lawyers, who keep us out of trouble, more or less.

• Do you have information you want to share with New Matilda in relation to our ongoing investigation into Bettina Arndt AM? You can contact us by email here, or via Signal, Telegram or Whatsapp on 0407 555 328.

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NINA FUNNELL is an Our Watch Walkley award winning freelance journalist and a director of End Rape On Campus Australia. Nina has been named Journalist of the Year at the B&T Women in Media awards (2019) and one of the 100 most influential women in Australia by the Australian Financial Review (2018). Nina has also been awarded the United Nations Media Award (2017), an Australian Human Rights Commission community individual award (2010) and in 2019 her #LetHerSpeak campaign was named News Corp's 'News Campaign of the Year'. CHRIS GRAHAM has worked in the media for more than three decades. He has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation, and has twice been awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission - Print Media Award for his reporting on Indigenous affairs. Chris also shared the Michael Schneider Award in the United States for an investigative feature on asbestos. Chris served on the Australian Press Council for three years, and is the editor and owner of New Matilda. He is the former founding editor of the National Indigenous Times.