Ten years after her daughter was murdered, Sonya Ryan watched on as new laws to protect children from a similar fate cleared federal parliament.
All she could think about was Carly, who was killed in Adelaide in 2007 when, at the age of 15, she met up with a 50-year-old paedophile posing as a teenage boy.
“It’s absolutely overwhelming for me to think that she didn’t go through all that suffering for nothing,” Ms Ryan later told reporters in Canberra.
“That the suffering she endured for hours and hours – I don’t even know how long – that there’s something good has come out of something so horrendous and cruel.”
Senators paid tribute to Ms Ryan as Carly’s Law cleared the upper house on Thursday afternoon, thanking her for her work to protect children from cyber predators.
The legislation will make it easier for police to intervene before predators have the chance to act and for online predators to be prosecuted and face 10 years in prison.
It targets predators who prepare or plan to groom children online, including those who lie about their age.
“I think about what Carly would say and I just can’t imagine what she’d say to me today, that there’s a law in her name to protect children from harm,” Ms Ryan said.
“(This law) is a real step in protecting our innocent, vulnerable, beautiful kids that are just trying to connect in an online space.
“They 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.”
South Australian senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore, who pushed for the laws alongside colleague Nick Xenophon, said its success was a testament to Ms Ryan’s strength.
“What has happened today boils down to the fact Sonya Ryan – who endured more pain, more loss and more suffering than any mother or parent should have to endure – has campaigned for Carly’s Law,” she said.
“Thank you Sonya, on behalf of all Australian familes, on behalf of all Australian children.”
Senator Xenophon pondered what might have been if the laws were in place sooner.
“If Carly’s Law was in place 11 years ago I wonder how many children would have been saved including Carly,” he said.
“Because the predator that murdered Carly was communicating with something like 200 children around the world.”