Donny Govan mystery: Ballarat family still has hope

Donny Govan
Donny Govan

THE family of missing Ballarat teenager Donny Govan still holds out hope he is alive two years after his disappearance.

As the 26th annual Missing Persons Week begins, Donny’s sister Rachael O’Keane said the campaign would build more awareness for her brother’s case.

“Every single day I think about it, until I hear otherwise, he has still got to be out there. We cling onto that every day,” Ms O’Keane said. 

Reports claiming the future of the missing persons unit, which operates within the homicide squad, could be in doubt emerged on the eve of the week.

The reports claimed detectives were uncertain about the future of the unit, which investigates suspicious disappearances that may otherwise be treated as routine by local police. However, Ms O’Keane said she had not been informed of any changes and said there was still a detective assigned to Donny’s case.

“Two years later and there is still no news. There’s not much to say anymore, now we are just repeating ourselves. The only thing that has changed is how long he has disappeared for,” Ms O’Keane said.

“Nothing different happens between this week and any other week. Although it helps that his posters are advertised on social media.”

Donny, then 16, disappeared on August 31, 2012, from an Echuca campsite where he had been camping with Ms O’Keane and four Ballarat friends.

After a few drinks, Donny became paranoid about his fellow campers, claiming they were out to get him, and ran off into thick bush.

Despite a massive manhunt, there has only been one credible sighting of the Linton youth since, when an elderly woman living 10 kilometres from the campsite said a well-mannered boy matching Donny’s description appeared from the bush and asked her for breakfast a few days after he disappeared.

She told police the boy said he had spent the night in the bush and was planning to go to Bendigo.

Ms O’Keane said her sense of hope that Donny was still alive remained strong.

“We don’t want his case to go to the coroners. We want the police to be doing something rather than it becoming a cold case,” she said.

“From my thoughts there has been no body found. If he was actually dead, his body would have been found.”

Throughout 2013/14, there were 8462 missing persons reports across Victoria. 

Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana said that shedding light on cases through campaigns like National Missing Persons Week could help jog the memories of people who may have vital information. 

“When a loved one, family member or friend disappears without explanation, it causes significant heartache for the families involved,” Mr Fontana said. 

“While the majority of missing people are found within a short period, some are not. If you can help, please contact police. It’s never too late.” 

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at


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