Carly's legacy a law to protect children

Carly's legacy a law to protect children

Legislation giving police more powers to protect children from online predators has passed Federal Parliament.

Photograph: Senator Nick Xenophon, left, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, Sonya Ryan and Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore.

The Criminal Code Amendment (Protecting Minors Online) Bill is also known as Carly's Law in honour of Stirling teenager Carly Ryan who was murdered at Port Elliot shortly after her 15th birthday.

Carly was lured to her death by a 47-year-old paedophile who used the fake online persona of 20-year-old musician Brandon Kane to convince the young girl to meet him at the seaside town.

When detectives tracked down Carly’s killer at his Victorian home, they found him logged online under the same persona “chatting” to a 14-year-old girl in Western Australia.

Brandon Kane was one of 200 fake online identities the murderer had created for the purpose of meeting young girls.

Carly’s Law fills a gap in the Criminal Code by allowing police to intervene when a predator is preparing to cause harm. Crucially this will include when a predator lies about their age to a child.

Carly's mother, Sonya Ryan, has campaigned since the murder of her daughter for stronger laws to protect young people online.

Over the last five years Sonya has worked with Senator Nick Xenophon to make children safer online.

NXT MP Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie joined her colleagues in their advocacy efforts when elected last year.

Ms Sharkie recently spoke in Parliament in support of Carly’s Law.

“I can think of no legitimate reason for an adult to lie, to pretend to be a minor to someone underage in order to build a relationship that leads to that adult setting up a meeting,” Ms Sharkie said.

“Sonya Ryan and the 90,000 people who signed her petition calling for Carly’s Law wanted police to have powers to intervene at an early stage, to detain an individual before a child has to go through something horrific.

“Sonya sees Carly’s Law as a meaningful legacy for her beautiful daughter.

“I commend Sonya for striving to make a change for good out of a tragedy so personally devastating and I commend everyone at the Carly Ryan Foundation for their work to make the online world safer for children.”

The amendment to the Criminal Code is:

474.25C  Using a carriage service to prepare or plan to cause harm to, engage in sexual activity with, or procure for sexual activity, persons under 16

A person (the first person) commits an offence if:

(a)  the first person does any act in preparation for doing, or planning to do, any of the following:

    (i)  causing harm to a person under 16 years of age;

    (ii)  engaging in sexual activity with a person under 16 years of age;

    (iii)  procuring a person under 16 years of age to engage in sexual activity; and

                     (b)  the first person is at least 18 years of age; and

                     (c)  the act is done using a carriage service.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 10 years.

Example:    A person misrepresents their age online as part of a plan to cause harm to another person under 16 years of age.