One of the worst fears for any parent is the thought of their child going missing. Around 35,000 people are reported missing in Australia each year - that's one person every 15 minutes. While 95% of missing persons are found within a week, there are currently 1,600 people who have been missing for more than six months.
It's missing person's week and the slogan for the week this year is "When someone goes missing. More than one person is lost"
Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay told Elloise Farrow Smith that there are more than 20 long term missing people on the Coffs Coast. He said that people shouldn't hesitate to contact police if they are concerned about a family member or friend who is missing. "What we say to people is not to wait 24 hours to report that someone is missing. If they've actually got fears for their safety and their location is unknown. It's not a crime to go missing," he said.
Rose Howell went missing in the Bellingen area on Friday April 11 2003, she was only 18 at the time. Her mother, Malila Howell, told Katya Quigley she felt worried about Rose the day she went missing when she didn't come home or call.
"After three days it was something's wrong, something's gone wrong, what's going on? Where is she? And then you kind of get desperate as the time goes past and you haven't got an answer to this right in your face, really important question and there's no way you can get an answer," she said.
"She was last seen on Perry's Hill on the evening of the day she went missing," Malila said. "Some weeks afterwards the police got an anonymous letter with details in it that they tried to follow up that intimated that she was dead."
"I went to all her haunts and places that she knew and talked to all her friends and I put posters up around Bellingen and around the area."
She said she is always wondering, and thinking about Rose. "You go on with life because that's what you do and it's like all the time you carry along this black hole with you," she said.
Detective Inspector Lindsay appealed for anyone who has any information about Rose Howell to please contact Coffs Harbour police on 6652 0299. He also said that anyone who is missing to please contact family or friends. "We would appeal to any person that hasn't been in contact with their family and next of kin for a long period of time to get in contact."
Malila said that if Rose is listening, she would like to send her love to her. "If you're alive I'd really like to know that you are and there's a big hole in life where you used to be but I hope your life is going well," she said.