MORE than 38,000 people are reported missing across Australia each year.
While many of them are soon found, hundreds of families can go months, years or even decades without knowing where their loved one is or what happened to them.
Pinjarra’s Ray and Margaret Dodd are among those still waiting for closure, almost 20 years to the day since their 17-year-old daughter Hayley went missing from the Wheatbelt town of Badgingarra in July 1999.
Francis John Wark was convicted of Hayley’s murder last year, but her body has never been found.
Mrs Dodd said they never believed they would still be waiting to bring their daughter home.
“Twenty years is just a milestone really, we never foresaw that we’d be waiting this long,” she said.
“We can’t have a real burial because we can’t find her.
“It’s been a traumatic 20 years but sometimes you just need to put an end to it, we need to move on.”
The Zonta Club of Peel is giving WA families like the Dodds the chance to remember and honour their missing loved ones at the annual Missing Persons Memorial Service next month.
Zonta Club of Peel’s Margaret Wyatt said the service had run annually since 2006.
“In WA there must be enormous amounts of people who have people missing,” she said.
“They can come here and lay flowers, it’s a place to come and mourn and remember, even if they’ve got no graves or a place to mourn.
“Last year we had a young man turn up and he said his wife had been missing five years here in Mandurah, he said it was great to have somewhere to come.”
Mrs Dodd said the memorial and annual service had been very important to them.
“To have that place to put flowers is so important,” she said.
“At least there they are recognised, they were here, they did exist.
“We needed somewhere to go and the foreshore was Hayley’s favourite place so it seemed obvious that we put a plaque there.”
Guests of honour at this year’s service include WA Premier Mark McGowan, Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams and Mrs Dodd, who will say some words at the memorial service before attendees are invited to lay flowers and enjoy a morning tea.
The service will be held at Mandurah’s Missing Persons Memorial from 10am, August 2.