opinion

EDITORIAL: All of WA must help search for missing Cleo Smith

The West Australian
The entire State has a part to play in helping find out what happened to little Cleo Smith.
Camera IconThe entire State has a part to play in helping find out what happened to little Cleo Smith.

It is almost impossible to find the words to describe how the parents of Cleo Smith must be feeling.

Perhaps it is a combination involving some of the following: Desperate.Overwhelmed. Distraught. Exhausted. Shattered. Despairing.

All of Western Australia is hoping, and indeed praying, that the search for the missing little girl will be concluded successfully.

And we are all following every twist and turn as each day the signs about what happened to Cleo become more worrying — and the search ever more urgent.

Cleo vanished from her family’s tent at the Blowholes camping ground, north of Carnarvon, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police say Cleo’s sleeping bag is missing and the tent she was staying in when she disappeared was unzipped at a height which the four-year-old could not reach, leading to “grave concerns” for her safety.

State Emergency Service volunteers, homicide detectives, mounted police, rangers, Indigenous bush trackers and Australian Defence Force members have scoured more than 20sqkm of the Coral Coast’s rugged terrain.

On Thursday the State Government threw more resources into those already deployed on the ground with the announcement of a $1 million reward for information which leads to the return of the missing child, or the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in her suspicious disappearance.

Premier Mark McGowan made the announcement himself.

“All Western Australians’ thoughts are with Cleo’s family during what is an unimaginably difficult time,” Mr McGowan said.

“We’re all praying for a positive outcome.

“We want to ensure police have everything they need to solve this case and that’s why my Government has no hesitation in supporting police with this reward offer.”

Police Minister Paul Papalia said Cleo’s disappearance was every parent’s worst nightmare.

“I’ve been advised every available police resource is being directed into this investigation and I’ve reassured the Acting Commissioner the Government will support police with any request they make to help solve this crime,” Mr Papalia said.

“I’d hope most people would willingly come forward if they had information that could assist police, but if this reward motivates someone to help police bring Cleo home, then the Government is more than happy to offer it.

“I urge anyone who knows what happened to little Cleo to come forward with the information police need to find her.”

WA Police Insp. Jon Munday said searchers would cast the net wider as they continued to search the popular tourist attraction and surrounds.

Insp. Munday said police “will be here until we are satisfied that Cleo is not in this area”.

Anything that could bring Cleo home is worth trying. All West Australians should be on the lookout for signs.

Please help.

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