Tough new laws come into effect from today, aimed at better protecting children from exploitation by insidious predators.
Under Carly’s Law, named after Adelaide teenager Carly Ryan, an adult who communicates with a child and lies about their age or identity and meets or arranges to meet with the child will face a maximum five years in jail, while someone who communicates with a child and lies about their age or identity with the intent of committing an offence against the child will face up to 10 years in jail.
“These laws target this vile predatory behaviour at its early stages, and highlight just how seriously this Government views the issue,” said Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.
“Importantly, the laws provide another mechanism for the early intervention of law enforcement, providing harsh maximum penalties.”
SA Police Assistant Commissioner, Crime Scott Duval said South Australia Police supported any legislation which assists in making the community safer, particularly children navigating the challenging world that exists online.
“Police will continue to actively target, investigate and prosecute those who seek to exploit children online,” he said.
“We also openly encourage any person who has information regarding people who offend against children; or who are suspected of any crime, to report that to police or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 so police can follow up on this.”
CEO and Founder of the Carly Ryan Foundation and Carly's mum, Sonya Ryan, said it's a relief to know the gap she identified in the law more than seven years ago has now been addressed.
"Police now have a tool in their child protection toolkit to intercept predators before they cause harm to children," she said.
"Carly's Law can be used even before grooming or procurement of a child occurs, which is vitally important because by then, a child has been harmed.
"I'm grateful my daughter's legacy has been enshrined in legislation in South Australia in this way and look forward to engaging with the other states to afford children throughout the country the same protection."
Ms Chapman paid tribute to Ms Ryan, who has campaigned tirelessly for stronger laws to protect children after her daughter Carly was killed by convicted paedophile Garry Francis Newman who pretended to be a young musician online.
“These laws exist in no small part due to Sonya Ryan’s dedication and determination,” said Ms Chapman.
“The introduction of these laws should act as a powerful deterrent to predatory behaviour.”