La st year 7280 people went missing in Victoria. One mother wants to help the families they left behind. Catherine Watson and Daniel Tran report.

It took Jo-Ann Adams seven agonising months to convince police that something terrible had happened to her son.

During that time, the increasingly desperate mother contacted all his friends and searched the streets of his home town of Cranbourne, and then wider afield. She put his photograph up in shops and railway stations.

So helpless did she feel that she even contacted psychics seeking a clue to where he — or his body — might be.

In 2010-11, 7280 people were reported missing in Victoria. Of those, 4139 were aged 17 or younger.

Two people are considered missing from the City of Monash — Rakesh D’Souza and Sally Cheong. Rakesh, an international student studying information technology at Monash University’s Clayton campus, was last seen in March 2005. He had last spoken to his family in the previous December, and it isn’t known where he was living.. Oakleigh South resident Sally Cheong, 26, was last seen on April 2, 2008 at 3am by her family.

Gary Adams’ disappearance is now regarded by Victoria Police as a homicide and there is a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of his killer. But when his mother first reported his disappearance to Cranbourne police in December 2003, the duty officer told her Gary was probably just off doing his own thing. After all, he was 17 and legally an adult.

She tried the Narre Warren police, got the same response and spent a month looking on her own before returning to the Frankston police to try to have him listed as missing.

‘‘The constable on duty told me I could fill out a missing person report if I wanted to but they were not going to do anything about it because they didn’t have the manpower,’’ Ms Adam said.