Lost brother leaves a void in the heart
IT IS 16 months since I talked to my brother, yet there hasn't been a funeral, or a feud or a family division to cause the silence.
He has simply gone missing. Except there is nothing simple about someone you love disappearing.
When my brother, Paul Stevenson, failed to return home after a motorbike ride near his Bundaberg home in March last year his name was added to an overwhelmingly long list of reported missing annually.
Nationally 35,000 people are reported missing each year. In Queensland the figure is around 6500 - or 17 new cases each day.
Queensland Police Service's Detective Superintendent Steve Holahan said, while 95% of missing persons were soon located within a short time, other families were left searching for answers.
Currently he explained there were 270 people on the state's long-term missing register where an individual's whereabouts has been unknown for longer than six months. Heartbreakingly, my brother's case now falls in this category.
For while it's relatively easy to talk about the facts relating to National Missing Person's Week, which runs until this Friday, it's challenging to live with the emotion.
National Missing Persons Co-ordination Centre research shows that when someone goes missing at least 12 others are directly affected.
Deputy Commissioner Mike Phelan of the Australian Federal Police calls it the "ripple effect".
My brother went missing on March 11, 2012, after leaving his Bundaberg home on an early morning ride.
Two days later the 1978 Honda CB750 motorbike he'd lovingly restored was found down an embankment on the Mt Perry-Gin Gin Rd, some 100km west of his home.
Last reported sighting of my brother was from travellers, who reported seeing someone matching his description walking near the site.
His mobile phone and his bank accounts have remained untouched and police have been unable to find any trace of him.
Now 16 long months since Paul disappeared we are no closer to knowing what happened. Maybe this National Missing Persons Week you can help a family like mine find answers.
Please view the missing persons register at www.police.qld.gov.au.