Damien Rider (purple shirt) prepares for a paddle-out in Bali to honour victims of child abuse and suicide.
Damien Rider (purple shirt) prepares for a paddle-out in Bali to honour victims of child abuse and suicide.

Campaign against child abuse

A CURRUMBIN survivor of childhood abuse is motivating an overseas campaign against child sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Damien Rider's horrific experience with child abuse caused deep psychological damage, triggering four suicide attempts and PTSD.

However, his story didn't end there and his experience as a survivor has motivated him to dedicate much of his life to combat child abuse and inspire others.

His efforts have included gruelling fitness challenges such as paddling solo on a paddleboard from the Gold Coast to Bondi on January 3 in 2015 to raise awareness of child abuse.

"That paddle broke world records and broke the demons of the past off my mind,” he said

It also inspired Mr Rider to set up Paddle Against Child Abuse (PACA) to raise awareness and to show other child abuse victims what they could achieve with their lives.

Paddle Against Child Abuse founder Damien Rider sets out on a paddle in Bali.
Paddle Against Child Abuse founder Damien Rider sets out on a paddle in Bali. Rick Koenig

"January 3 has become International PACA day when people around the world are encouraged to go for a paddle,” he said.

Last week, Mr Rider, who has been involved with the health and wellness centre, Oceans Retreat at Casaurina on the Tweed Coast, led a paddle in Bali to honour those who have lost their lives as a result of child abuse or suicide.

There was also a ChildSafe Australia paddle-out on the Gold Coast, in Brisbane, Victoria and other parts of the world.

Mr Rider's other initiatives include creating Child Abuse Awareness Week in 2016 to help victims find their voice to tell their stories to help others.

"I also support ChildSafe in Australia and Project Karma in Bali, an Australian Registered Charity founded by ex-Victorian detective and international private investigator Glen Hulley nearly three years ago,” he said.

"Project Karma focuses of all forms of child sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. It has worked with, or consulted to, many large, non-governmental organisations such as UNICEF and ECPAT International.”

Mr Hulley said Project Karma worked closely on investigations with, and trained local and international law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL, Australian Federal Police, Royal Thai Police, Philippines National Police, Cambodian National Police and Indonesian National Police.

"We worked with the Australian Government to introduce a new law in 2017 which bans the overseas travel of registered child sex offenders - a world first initiative.”

He said its Sentinel Model involved pilot projects in Bali and Cebu in the Philippines.

"The goal is to introduce this model to about 25 locations in 12 countries in South East Asia over the next three years with hopes that the model can be introduced globally over the following five years,” Mr Hulley said.

Mr Rider is clearly unstoppable in his fight against child abuse and his other achievements include setting up Child Abuse Abuse Awareness Week in Thailand. He was a keynote speaking at the conference of the Royal Commission findings into institutionalised sexual child abuse and has created two feature-length documentaries on his story and cause.

He is the author and creator of One Breath Meditation - "a tool to share with others to help get them through daily life challenges,” he said.

"Sadly, more than two million children in South East Asia are living in different forms of sexual slavery and exploitation. Many have been human trafficked.”

He said the annual value of the global, commercial child sexual exploitation industry was estimated at more than US$36 billion and its growth at more than 12 per cent annually.

Mr Rider said this was attributed to the lower cost of airfares with the introduction of budget airlines, and the continuous development of the internet and accessibility devices.

For more information on how you can help, visit www.projectkarma.org.au/support-us/

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