The Federal Government’s Criminal Code Amendment (Protecting Minors Online) Bill 2017 has passed both houses of Parliament and is awaiting assent. The Bill was described by the Government as “an evolved version of Carly’s Law”, designed to criminalise acts preparatory to the commission of child sexual offences. “Carly’s Law” is named after 15 year old Carly whose mother, Sonya Ryan, has been campaigning for the introduction of the legislation since the murder of her daughter a decade ago, by an online predator posing as a teenage boy.
In a media release issued last week, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said:
“Today, Sonya has achieved what she set out to do. The new offence will provide police with the power to intervene before a predator has the chance to act, before a child is harmed…The tough new sentence of 10 years imprisonment for convicted offenders will also serve as a strong deterrent for the vile grooming of young Australians”
The media release also highlighted the introduction of the Passports Legislation Amendment (Overseas Travel by Child Sex Offenders) Bill 2017 into Parliament on 14 July 2017, saying both pieces of legislation demonstrated “the Coalition Government’s commitment to better protecting young Australians”.
Sonya Ryan told ABC News:
“To actually get this legislation passed to protect children is huge and a real step in protecting our innocent, vulnerable, beautiful kids that are just trying to connect in the online space and should be able to do so without having to worry about being taken advantage of, or hurt or worse by a criminal trying to infiltrate their lives.”
When commenced, the Act will insert a new section 474.25C into the Criminal Code:
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.
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