The federal government has announced changes to the Criminal Code to allow police to prosecute for predatory behaviour, after years of campaigning by The Carly Ryan Foundation.
Carly Ryan was only 15 when she was murdered at Port Elliot by an online predator in February 2007. A 50-year-old man had posed as a 20-year-old musician and lured Carly to meet with him.
Ten years after her murder, the federal government agreed to changes to the law which let police intervene when a predator has “acts done in preparation for, or planning to, cause harm to or engage in sexual activity with a minor”.
This includes the predator lying about their age. The offender could face up to 10 years in jail.
Carly’s mother Sonya, who heads up the foundation, has been pushing for the changes while educating tens of thousands of school children and their families about online risks.
She worked with Senator Nick Xenophon and in 2013, Carly’s Law was introduced into the Senate. This focused on making it an offence for an adult to lie about their age to someone under 16 online and try to meet them.
Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore took the reins on the Bill last year and was cosponsored by Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) Senators Xenophon and Stirling Griff, along with Senator Derryn Hinch.
These Criminal Code changes go hand-in-hand with Sonya’s education work and will be known as Carly’s Law.
“We simply cannot count how many lives have already been saved, and how many children have made safer choices online because of Carly’s story,” Sonya said.
“These changes announced today are a beautiful tribute to Carly’s legacy. After ten years of hard work, we have now given police and prosecutors a new weapon they can use to intervene sooner, and secure more convictions in the case of internet predators.
“It will give greater protection to children, teenagers and families when these insidious offenders attempt to infiltrate their lives.”
Senator Kakoschke-Moore said the Criminal Code changes was a tribute to Carly’s legacy and Sonya’s hard work, and acknowledged the support of people across the country.
”I know from my work as Senator Xenophon’s constituent manager of the overwhelming need for greater protections for children online, but also the Change.org petition with more than 98,000 signatures tells us the community wants and needs a strengthening of the Criminal Code in this way,” she said.
“Ultimately, if we can come together to better protect children then that is a great outcome.”