At the March 4 Justice I called for national law reform for mandatory life sentencing without parole for rapist murderers

Eileen Culleton speaking at March 4 Justice Mullumbimby Event. Photo Jeff Dawson, The Echo

I had the privilege of speaking at the March 4 Justice Mullumbimby Event on 15 March 2021. I called for national law reform for murder with sexual assault to be made a separate offence carrying a mandatory life sentence with no parole.

This was my first public speech and march calling for law reform and calling for justice for my sister Anne-Marie Culleton. I felt so encouraged and empowered.  Below is the transcript and video of my speech, along with various media coverage:

Friends, my name is Eileen Culleton and I am the sister of Anne-Marie Culleton, who at just 20 years old was raped and murdered when Jonathan Bakewell broke down her back door in the middle of the night to rape and murder her in her bed. This crime is every woman’s worst nightmare.

I am here to call for national law reform. I am here to call for the crime of murder with sexual assault to be a separate offence carrying a life sentence with no parole. I am here to call for national sentencing laws; uniform laws across the nation. Because this is true justice for victims. Because this will protect women. And because rapist murderers should never get a second chance to repeat their crime.

Rape is a gender hate crime and the crime of rape and murder is the ultimate gender hate crime of the most heinous kind. Life sentencing for the crime of murder with sexual assault will send the strongest possible message that Australia does not tolerate rape crime. And I am calling for the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to step up and show leadership and answer this call for law reform.

Jonathan Bakewell originally got a life sentence with no parole – then they changed the laws and reduced his sentence to just 20 years. 20 years is not a life sentence. A woman’s life must be valued equally to a man’s life. Which means that the sentence for a rapist murderer should be for the term of his natural life.

Bakewell was just 55 when he was released on parole. Just as dangerous. And I am petrified that he will attack again. This is my living nightmare. He’s breached parole four times yet they keep releasing him. This is my living nightmare. And this is the living nightmare of victim families around this country fighting desperately to keep rapist murderers behind bars. Fighting desperately to keep women safe. This nightmare must end.

I have a petition on change.org  Life for Rapist Murderers which I launched on the 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. And I called on the Attorney General Christian Porter to put this law reform on the national agenda of the Council of Attorney General’s meeting. I also addressed the petition to the state attorney generals.

I called on Christian Porter because he had the power to do that. And he had the mandate to that because Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. And the 2018 committee report called for national legislation to fight this scourge, this national level of violence against women. We have a crisis and we need a national solution.

But Christian Porter dismissed my petition. He said it’s a matter of the states. And now, he’s on leave under a cloud of a historic rape allegation, the latest of many to rock federal parliament. And that’s why we’re here. We say enough. Women have had enough of the federal government dismissing the crime of sexual assault. It’s not a women’s issue it’s a crime.

So now I am calling on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to step up and show leadership. To step up and call for this national law reform. The law is there to serve us, the people. And we demand justice. We demand change. We demand safety for women. We demand law reform.

Friends, please unite with me with one voice, sign my petition. Life for Rapist Murderers. It’s on Change.org. Thank you.

Here is the video of my speech:

My speech was covered by NBN News as well as the local newspapers and the Daily Telegraph. All media stories included links to my petition Life For Rapist Murderers.

The Echo 16 March 2021 p1 Read more >>
Northern Star 18 March 2021 Read more >>

I also spoke after the march to Northern Star reporter Liana Boss:

Northern Star 18 March 2021 Watch now >>
Daily Telegraph 18 March 2021 Read more >>

If you agree that we need this law reform, please sign my petition Life For Rapist Murderers and share widely with your family, friends and networks.

Together we can make law reform a reality.

Together we can make our nation safer for women and children.

Thank you.

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