It’s official. Carly’s Law has passed in South Australia.
The legacy of murdered South Australian teenager Carly Ryan was enshrined in legislation today, with a Bill for Carly’s Law passing through parliament.The law makes it an offence for an adult to lie about their age online or pretend to be someone they're not, to a child, and then attempt to meet that child.
Today's momentous occasion follows a tireless campaign at state and federal level, by Carly’s mum, Sonya Ryan. Ms Ryan, who is also the CEO and Founder of harm-prevention charity the Carly Ryan Foundation, has been lobbying for SA to introduce the legislation for more than five years.
"I feel such a sense of relief knowing police in my home state now have an extra tool to arrest criminals who use the internet to deceive and lure children," Ms Ryan said.
“Carly can rest in peace knowing that this new law named in her honour, will prevent what happened to her happening to another innocent child in the future.
"In her name I will continue to advocate for measures to help protect children and give them every opportunity to thrive in our communities."
Last year, following the 10-year anniversary of Carly’s murder, the Federal Government agreed to insert a version of Carly’s Law into the Commonwealth Criminal Code. While Carly’s Law federally is broad in that acts in preparation to cause harm or engage in sexual activity with a child is outlawed, including lying about age, it requires police prove there is intent to commit harm. The South Australian law which passed today, does not require proof of intention to harm the child. Alleged offenders face a penalty of five years imprisonment and if authorities are able to prove there was also an intention to commit a crime against the child the maximum penalty rises to 10 years.
Garry Newman, the 50-year-old paedophile who murdered 15-year-old Carly in 2007 south of Adelaide, posed as an 18-year-old musician from Melbourne to deceive her for 18 months through online contact and phone calls. Newman’s deceptive actions of lying about his age to Carly and pretending to be someone other than who he was, which ultimately led to Carly’s death, were not a crime under state law meaning police could not intervene before he harmed Carly.
"South Australia is now leading the way in legislating to protect children against online predators and the Carly Ryan Foundation will be advocating for other states and territories to follow suit," Ms Ryan said. "I want Australia to be the safest place for a young person to connect online so they can fully embrace this technology to benefit their lives and seek out positive connections."
The Carly Ryan Foundation thanks all members of parliament and particularly the South Australian community for their amazing support for Carly's Law.