Theo Hayez mystery: ‘A lot going on in the background’
WHILE things may appear quiet on the surface, there is still work happening in the background to determine what happened to Theo Hayez.
The Belgian backpacker, aged 19 at the time of his disappearance, was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey's bar on Jonson St in Byron Bay on May 31, 2019.
He was reported missing to NSW Police a week later, after he failed to checkout of a Belongil backpackers accommodation.
Despite desperate efforts to find him, his disappearance remains a mystery.
But a team of community volunteers who spent many hours scouring the Byron Bay region for clues has been recognised among the finalists of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards for 2020.
Theo's disappearance will be subject to a coronial inquest.
While the Looking for Theo Hayez team did not take out the top award, they have still achieved a key goal: making sure Theo's name and their cause remains in the public psyche.
Volunteers gathered via video call with other finalists in an event run by the Centre for Volunteering on Thursday.
Sheri D'Rosario and twin sisters Renee and Jacalyn Scott were among those who spearheaded the effort to find Theo.
"I guess the main thing is to encouraged other community members (to understand) when someone goes missing that it is a community issue," Renee said.
"It's like any community tragedy. The community response is so much greater."
While no date for a formal inquest has been announced, Ms D'Rosario said there had been work happening in this regard.
"There's a lot going on in the background and the Crown solicitors office has been doing heaps of work and speaking with us and the family," she said.
"The contribution we've made has been acknowledged by that legal process as well."
She said a message she'd seen on social media spoke to the significance of community volunteers in a circumstance like this; the author encouraged people trying to help children to navigate difficult times to "look for the helpers in tragedy".
"Because you always see so much goodness," Ms D'Rosario said.
Byron Community College president Helen Hamilton was also a finalist in the awards and was present with the local group who gathered at Bangalow Bowling Club.
The group extended their thanks to the club for offering a space for their celebratory gathering.