TAS Campaign

The Mercury 6 November 2021 p4

The Tasmania campaign was launched in November 2021, spearheaded by Tameka Ridgeway, a gang rape victim who at 17 years old, in 1986, was abducted, raped, tortured with a chainsaw and her fiancé Dean Allie stabbed to death.

Ms Ridgeway is only alive today because the farmer of the paddock where she was raped came to her rescue while the perpetrators were sleeping and she was laying unconscious.

Ms Ridgeway is fighting for this law reform because she believes rapist murderers like her attacker Jamie John Curtis cannot be rehabilitated and she lives in fear that he will attack again.

Even though he was given a life sentence, rapist murderer Jamie John Curtis was paroled and repeatedly released despite repeated parole breaches.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ he reoffends but ‘when’”, Ms Ridgeway said.

Ms Ridgeway is a strong law reform campaigner, having fought alongside 2020 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and many other victim survivors for the #Let Her Speak campaign which ended Tasmania’s sexual assault victim gag laws.

Eileen Culleton and Tameka Ridgeway were introduced by Nina Funnell, Director of the #LetUsSpeak campaign after Eileen campaigned alongside Ms Funnell and the #LetUsSpeak campaign to successfully overturn the Victoria 2020 gag law preventing family members of murdered rape victims from speaking their loved one’s name publicly (See Victoria Gag Law Campaign page on this website).

It must be noted the #LetHerSpeak/LetUsSpeak campaign is not affiliated with this law reform campaign.

The Tasmania campaign launch received media coverage in The Mercury newspaper, 7 News, Win News, ABC News radio and Triple M morning show with Brian Carlton.

7 News Tasmania

7 Nightly News Tasmania 8 November 2021

WIN News Tasmania

WIN News Hobart 8 November 2021

Triple M Hobart Brian Carlton (The Spoonman) Morning Show

Triple M Hobart Brian Carlton: The Spoonman 11 November 2021 Listen now >>

In December 2021 another victim survivor joined the campaign, Janelle O’Connor, the first sexual assault survivor in Tasmania to speak out after the S194k reform to the victim gag law. Janelle is also a strong law reform campaigner, having campaigned alongside Grace Tame, Tameka Ridgeway and many other sexual assault victim survivors who fought as part of the #LetHerSpeak campaign to end the victim gag law.

ABC News 13 December 2021

Janelle O’Connor was just 16 years old when she was abducted, bashed and gang-raped at knifepoint on Christmas Eve, 1993, by three men. Among them was convicted killer Geoffrey Michael Haywood who had come prepared with a hunting knife. After the rapes Haywood told her they were taking her to dig her own grave.

Ms O’Connor said she is only alive today because the car they were in crashed.

Ms O’Connor and Ms Ridgeway hope Tasmania will be the first state to bring in this law reform for murder with sexual assault to be made a stand-alone crime, carrying a mandatory sentence of life with no parole.

“We have joined forces to bring about law reform before in Tasmania, with the #Let Her Speak campaign to end the sexual assault victim gag law and we aim to do it again, this time for the safety of women,” they said.

“Rapist murderers should never get a second chance to repeat their crime. The women of Tasmania and women across the country deserve to be safe.”

Eileen said everyone needs to listen to Tameka Ridgeway and Janelle O’Connor because these women are the rare survivors of rapist murderers and provide a unique insight that no one else can.

“We all need to be hanging on their every word because they have come face to face with the brutality and evil of rapist murderers and miraculously escaped,” Eileen Culleton said.

“They have experienced the hate, the cruelty and viciousness that rapist murderers inflict on their victims,” she said.

“Rape is not about sex, it’s a brutal gender hate crime perpetrated against women. The crime of rape and murder is a horrific intentional hate crime of the most heinous kind.”

Impact of parole release of murderers on victim families and survivors

In March 2022 The Mercury published a special report on the impact of the parole release of convicted killers on victim families and survivors. In 2021 nine murderers were released including Jamie John Curtis.

Tameka Ridgeway who is spearheading the Tasmania campaign shared the living hell she is going through as a result of Curtis’ repeated parole releases. Campaign founder Eileen Culleton also shared how her sister’s rapist murderer Jonathan Bakewell’s repeated parole releases have derailed her life.

The Mercury 19 March 2022 p16 & 17 Read more >>

Meeting with the Tasmania Attorney General Elise Archer

Eileen Culleton and Tameka Ridgeway met with Attorney General Elise Archer in September 2021. Ms Archer was supportive of the law reform and is currently seeking advice from the Department of Justice.

“I have met with victim-survivors and I am currently seeking advice from my department on any further action that can be taken to ensure our sentencing laws reflect community expectations,” she said in an ABC article.

Eileen and Ms Ridgeway also met with Shadow Attorney General Ella Haddad in July 2021. Ms Haddad was supportive, but expressed the Labor party’s general policy opposition to mandatory sentencing.

Elise Archer stated in the ABC Article the government’s previous attempts at introducing mandatory sentencing had been “blocked by Labor at every turn”.

Eileen said she understands the opposition to mandatory sentencing, but there are crimes for which mandatory sentencing is essential, and murder with sexual assault is one such crime.

Eileen said one of the key reasons for this is to act as a deterrent. She said rape is a hate crime and many rapist murderers have raped before and murder is an escalation to that rape hate crime. Eileen said another key reason for mandatory sentencing is because the justice system is broken and rapist murderers don’t get true life sentences anymore, because the crimes are compared in a “macabre hierarchy of brutality and depravity”.

Eileen said a prime example is the sentencing of the Claremont serial killer and rapist Bradley Edwards in 2020. Justice Stephen Hall refused the Department of Prosecution’s request to mark Edwards papers never to be released, citing that his crimes were not the ‘worst category’.

“If a serial killer and rapist is not deemed worst category what is? Our justice system is clearly broken,” Eileen said.

Eileen said she looks forward to further discussions with both parties and she hopes this important law reform for the safety of women can become a bipartisan issue, given the Australian crisis of violence against women.

For more information on why the law reform and mandatory sentencing is needed, please refer to FAQs page.

How to help the law reform campaign

Your voice has power in telling the politicians that Tasmania’s sentencing laws are not in line with community expectations for crimes of murder with sexual assault and that you want this law reform to keep rapist murderers behind bars for life. Please consider the following actions:

Sign the Petition

By signing and sharing the petition Life For Rapist Murderers you will help send a collective message to the politicians that this is an issue that is important to the community.

Contact politicians

You may also want to contact politicians by calling or emailing them to express your support for this law reform. See below for their contact details:

Tasmania Attorney General Elise Archer

Phone: Minister Office (03) 6165 7739
Email: elise.archer@parliament.tas.gov.au

Tasmanian Council of Assembly Members Contact Details

Tasmanian Legislative Council Members Contact Details

Law Reform Campaign

Victim Advocasy