On Monday afternoon after walking home from work, I gleefully grabbed my flat mate’s Sunday papers and headed for the top of my bed, inspired by a sudden decision to enjoy a Sunday on a Monday. And boy was I going to make the most of it.
Off with the work clobber, and on with the kettle and toaster. Swish, and Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph (19th September 2010) and all her inglorious innards was snatched away from under the television. On with curling up beneath my horse blanket (no, there were no horses in my room, rather, it is a beloved thick blanket with a picture of a mare and foal on both sides), I perched the tea cup on the adjacent shoe rack, and spread out the lovely picnic of toast and newsprint on the shiny faux satin quilt. Ah, bliss.
Until, in the accompanying magazine supplement, Sunday Magazine, an article, ‘Don’t Forget Our Daughters,’ which revealed the hopes and fears of the parents of three young women who were either abducted or went missing Victoria and New South Wales from 1990 to 2001.
The continuing heart-break of the Small, Carmichael, and McDiarmid families who hold out hope that their beautiful children, Jessica Small (15), Sarah McDiarmid (23), and Kellie Carmichael (24) will return, or that investigations can provide conclusive answers to the whereabouts of their daughters; read baldly on the page.
Jessica’s mother, Ricki does what she can to cope with the likelihood that her daughter, abducted and assaulted on the 26th of October 1997, between Bathurst and Kelso, may no longer be alive. But:
The recent discovery of human remains in Belanglo State Forest brought all the memories back. ”News like that fills you with dread,” she says. ”It could be your child, your loved one. You know it will be some sort of closure for someone” (Sunday Magazine, 19/11/2010: pg 17).
For all the value that publicity about these cases may provide to investigations, what were the Sunday Magazine editors thinking when they decided to run a four page fashion spread featuring a young female model posing in a forest, in the same issue? And why do this only four pages after a two-page story about missing children? Where was their compassion? For the grieving families of those missing girls reading that magazine supplement on Sunday, how could one expect this to be anything less than a vicious, low kick in the teeth?
Consider the A.F.P. statistics: ”It is estimated that 35,000 people are reported missing each year in Australia. This equates to one person every 15 minutes. This is a rate of 1.7 people per 1,000 Australians.” But of these, ”more than 95 per cent are located within a short period of time (usually one week). However there remains a significant number, more than 1,600, who are listed as long-term missing, that is, missing for more than six months.” (http://www.missingpersons.gov.au/nmpcc/faqs.aspx#a3).
Sarah McDiarmid’s mother, Sheila, has created a website, http://www.notalone.com.au to provide another avenue of support for other families in the same situation. She updates it with ”… photographs and stories of all those other children so the public and police never stop looking” (Sunday Magazine, 19/11/2010: pg 18).
We should never give up hope. Not for Sarah McDiarmid, Kellie Carmichael, or Jessica Small. Not for any missing person.