We made a promise to the family of William Tyrrell, a wonderful young boy who has tragically been missing now for more than a year, that we would do all we could to help bring him home. Saturday was the anniversary of his disappearance and was marked by community walks across the nation.
They dressed in red and blue and in Spiderman costumes. They came with toddlers, dogs, prams and balloons and at 10.30am, exactly one year on from the disappearance, they marched to bring him home. There were more than 80 registered events across the nation, and in Canada, all walking for William. All were asking the same question, a question his parents and the local community have asked since the day he went missing. How can a child just disappear?
This is a crime that strikes fear into the hearts of parents everywhere, a disappearance in broad daylight from our homes, in our neighbourhoods. I walked for William in Tuggeranong in Canberra where I met Kathy, a woman who has been looking for William for the past 10 months.
She carried this Missing Child flyer with pictures of him. Kathy is not a police officer or a private detective. She is a normal Australian who was touched by William’s story and has for the past 10 months been pinning signs like this up on noticeboards and windows across her community of Oxley in the ACT.
William’s favourite superhero Spiderman was an everyday hero. The community demonstrated this weekend that Australia has thousands of everyday heroes - from the printer in Kendall producing thousands of flyers and sending them around the nation, to Hetty Johnston and Bravehearts, to the NSW Police and Crimestoppers, to the company driving the campaign online pro bono Insight Communications, to the organisers and volunteers who rallied local communities right across the nation to Walk for William, and to the thousands of families who with one voice on Saturday said this type of crime is unacceptable and the community should do all that it can to stamp it out.
Leslie Williams, Member for Port Macquarie, who represents Kendall, has told me of the more than 600 people in that community who marched, and sold T-shirts, ribbons and hats on Saturday, September 12. Leslie is right when she says the unwavering determination to find William is absolutely overwhelming in Kendall, that from the time it happened to now, 12 months later, they haven’t stopped looking for him. They are so determined to find an answer.
Leslie tells me that this shocking event has rocked the very foundation of that small, tight-knit community, and made them question the security of their children, and the freedom their children once had, such as walking to school on their own. On the 12 month anniversary of his disappearance, one of his parents said:
“William’s disappearance came close to crushing us. It’s only the love and support from people on the mid North Coast that has kept us going.”
I joined with people across the nation in writing to William’s family in message books placed at the rally point of the walks. My message to his parents was simple:
“The nation is walking with William today but we will walk with you until he is bought back.”
We marked Where’s William Tyrrell week in NSW Parliament with a bi-partisan event that his family attended, where I made it clear that I would do all I could to help spread the word, his pictures and encourage everyone to do the same. Our colleagues in Canberra also commemorated the anniversary of Williams’ disappearance.
In doing so, we reinforce to the community our steadfast resolve to find William and stamp out this kind of crime and we say to those affected by this tragedy across Kendall, the North Coast and the nation that our thoughts and prayers are with you, your children and especially William.
I urge anyone who knows anything to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.