Last week I met 2 inspirational people. Last week I found out when delivering books back to my local library that Sunshine Coast couple I had watched through the media were visiting that week to chat, they are (as they said) an ordinary mum & dad. I have listened & read stories of their progress (and lack of) via local news & papers, I have watched, and prayed for these strangers and felt anger, empathy, sadness & fear.
Almost 8 years ago this ordinary couple & their family were shattered by a cruel turn of fate... in this safe community, their son Daniel was waiting for a bus by the side of a road, it was running late having broken down earlier, and although he flagged for it to stop, the bus didn't stop, the decision was made to leave the young teen alone by the side of the road, he had been waiting to go to the Plaza to buy Christmas presents for his family... several witnesses in the bus & other passing vehicles saw Daniel, they also saw a shadowy unkempt man lurking nearby.
Daniel was gone by the time the next bus arrived shortly after.
This is the stuff of nightmares and the Morecombe family's has been never ending from that day in December 2003. From that day people on the Sunshine Coast & around Australia realised that monsters lurk, real monsters and they live in our communities.
Denise & Bruce Morecombe somehow turned this tragic incident on it's head, they took that flithy hand fate deal them & they transformed it into something pure & good. They have never given up looking for their beautiful son, as they said, the abductor picked the wrong family... They started the Daniel Morecombe Foundation to educate children on the dangers in the environment, those dangers from strangers or even family members, what to do, how to get help... they also work with the police in helping children & families who are victims of crime, whether it's paying for singing tuition to help the child who hadn't spoken since she witnessed her mother's murder or working with the police and government bodies to bring in a new hand signal which will be nationally (& maybe globally) recognised as a call for help or assistance by anyone who uses it. The Foundation gives FREE brochures, bookmarks & videos to anyone who requests them, teachers can show them to their students, parents share them with their children... their work is voluntary, Bruce said it gives he & Denise a reason to get up everyday... and everyday they wait...
Last Saturday a 41 year old Perth man - Brett Peter Cowan, father of 3, was charged with Daniel's murder, since the arrest police & SES volunteers have been digging in swamp bushland not far from Australia Zoo, in Beerwah they have uncovered shoes which match Daniels when he went missing, and 3 human bones which today have been sent for DNA testing. In the rain & under difficult conditions, the police & SES volunteers continue searching as I write.
The arrested man has given a 'not guilty' plea, but if evidence is found this may change. Partly as a result of this & campagining the Australian government has just passed a law that GPS trackers will be used to monitor dangerous sex offenders released back into the community.
I watched over 8 years hoping the Morecombe family would somehow find their son & in those 8 years became suspicious of cars hanging around my children's bus stops that were unfamiliar, I wondered as I drove by rugged bushland if Daniel remains may be there, I dreamt of him, and I saw his sweet parents in the library & choked back on tears because there was nothing I could do to change the haunted look in their beautiful eyes. I learnt of how many children are in danger from the pedophiles released un-named into our communities every day & how the criminals released become more cunning,.. & violent, I hear they come up in car pools & watch the young boys & girls who innocently take part in the Nippers beach activities. The Morecome's gave practical advice on we need to protect our youth through education & awareness... the Morecombe's are everyday people that are heroes, they are driven by a passion to keep our kids safe...
I wanted to share this to show that this little boy touched the hearts & minds of so many, was the catalyst of a national surge that is changing government policies, and shocked the nation into the reality that in the 'lucky' country, there are predators living in our communities, and all must do their part to protect the future & safety of our children. Most Australians & their children know Daniel's story, it is told & lesson's are learnt, but at the heart of it all, it is real & an unbelievable tragic cost to one family.