Justice Campaigner Sonya Ryan Recognised For Service To Mothers And Children On World Stage
South Australia's Sonya Ryan, founder and CEO of online safety and harm-prevention charity, the Carly Ryan Foundation, has been recognised among global figures for outstanding achievements in serving mothers and children's issues at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi overnight.
Ms Ryan was presented with the Mother of the Nation award at the Motherhood and Childhood Ceremony at the Emirates Palace following the Interfaith Alliance for Safer communities: Child Dignity in the Digital World Forum, which she has attended as a guest speaker .
Hosted by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin zayed bin sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's armed Forces, the Forum's focus was on protecting children across digital space and creating new avenues of dialogue between global faiths for the benefit of all humanity.
Australia's eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant is also attending the Forum which closed overnight, after marking International Children's Day.
President of The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Fatima bint Mubarak, who presented Ms Ryan with the award expressed the Council's profound gratitude and appreciation for Ms Ryan's dignified and distinguished efforts in supporting mothers and children.
The Carly Ryan Foundation was founded by Ms Ryan in 2010 in honour of her daughter Carly who was the first person to be murdered by an online predator.
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.
Ms Ryan has successfully lobbied both the Commonwealth and South Australian governments to introduce 'Carly's Law' which makes it illegal for a person to lie about their age or identity to a child online and then attempt to meet that child. The CRF also runs online safety seminars in schools, teaching children, parents, and teachers how to stay safe online.
It is these efforts and her resilience in the face of unbelievable grief and adversity that she has been recognised for in Abu Dhabi.
Ms Ryan said she was honoured to receive the award and grateful for the opportunity to represent Carly on a world stage.
"Everything I do is to honour my daughter's legacy by helping to prevent harm to others," she said.
"No one should have to endure the suffering that Carly did - whether they are in Australia or elsewhere in the world - so to speak about Carly's Law on a world stage and the work we are doing to educate children and families so they can have a safe journey online is an amazing opportunity.
"It is fitting the award represents the extraordinary bond between a mother and her child and the strength of that relationship because I know my love connection with my daughter has never been broken and has been the driving force behind my work."
Ms Ryan said a number of countries have expressed interest in implementing Carly's Law and she looks forward to continuing discussions with them about how it can best work within their criminal law system.