National Missing Persons Week

National Missing Persons Week (NMPW) is an annual event to raise awareness of the significant issues associated with missing persons, and help reduce the incidence and impact of missing persons in Australia.

The disappearance of Tony Jones in 1982 was the catalyst for the establishment of NMPW in Australia. The inaugural week took place with a memorial service in Townsville in 1988, where the Mayor of Townsville planted a tree in commemoration of Mr Jones.

NMPW is now held every year in Australia in the first week of August. Along with a national media campaign, led by the NMPCC in support of State and Territory police, events and memorial services are held across the country to highlight the plight of missing persons and their families and friends.

Previous National Missing Persons Week campaigns:

  • 1997/1998: Help unravel the mystery
  • 1999: Put yourself back in the picture
  • 2000: If you’re missing, someone is missing you
  • 2001: Somewhere, someone is thinking about you
  • 2002: Find a way to say you’re ok
  • 2003: PLEaS (Prevention, Location, Education, and Support) principles
  • 2004: Missing: the right to know
  • 2005: Talk, please, don't walk
  • 2006: Life is a puzzle. Every piece is important
  • 2007: How do you find someone when they struggle to find themselves?
  • 2008: Don’t close the door to communication: When communication goes missing, so does our youth.
  • 2009: Not knowing is like living in darkness
  • 2010: When someone goes missing, a day spent waiting is a day lost
  • 2011: When someone goes missing, more than one person is lost
  • 2012: Take the time to let someone know
  • 2013: See the signs before they disappear
  • 2014: Dementia and missing persons
  • 2015: Follow your instincts
  • 2016: Stay connected
  • 2017: Still waiting for you to come home
  • 2018: 30 years of National Missing Persons Week

National Missing Persons Week 2018 will be held from 5 - 11 August 2018.

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2014: Dementia and missing persons

In 2014 the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre's focus was on raising awareness within the community of the links between dementia and missing persons. Each year the we build awareness messaging around one of the key groups in the community most at risk of going missing.

What can I do to help?

If you are a carer of person suffering from dementia who may be at risk of wandering and going missing, consider whether registration in a safe return program, an ID bracelet or other means of identification may be suited to your situation.

The NMPCC also encourages the carers of people with Dementia to consider ways to help those suffering from this illness. This year, the NMPCC has developed a range of merchandise specifically targeted at carers and dementia sufferers, with the theme of "Remembering".

More information

For more information on Dementia and Missing Persons, please view the following NMPCC factsheets:

For more information on Alzheimer's and Dementia contact:

Dementia Australia
or call the dementia helpline on: 1800 100 500

2015: Follow your instincts

Research shows there are several myths about missing persons commonly held within the community. One of the NMPCC's awareness objectives is to dispel these myths in the hope that awareness of the facts will reduce the incidence of missing persons. In 2015 the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre will focus on raising awareness within the community of the common myths and facts surrounding missing persons.

The central messaging and branding designed to help communicate the theme is ‘follow your instincts’. Merchandise and advertising has been produced and distributed across Australia to form a national educational strategy in support of this campaign.

Follow your instincts

One of the most common myths surrounding missing persons is that you have to wait before reporting someone as missing. It’s common for people think they need to wait 24 hours, 48 hours, or sometimes even longer before they can make a missing persons report to police.

In Australia, a missing person is defined as anyone whose whereabouts are unknown, and there are immediate concerns for their safety and welfare. If someone you know is missing follow your instincts and report immediately.

More Information

For more information on some of the other common myths surrounding missing persons, please view the following NMPCC publications:

2016: Stay connected

In 2016 the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre will focus on raising awareness of the impacts of missing persons within the community. Our key message 'Missing persons leave frayed edges, Stay connected' reminds us all of the importance of staying connected with family and friends and enhancing the support networks for those most at risk of going missing.

The impact of missing persons

Anyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or educational background, may face the issue of someone they know becoming a missing person. The impact on families and friends, and the missing people themselves, can be both profound and multi-faceted. Commonly reported impacts on family and friends of missing persons include health consequences, time off from work, and financial costs associated with the search.

Impacts on families and friends

Most missing persons are reported to police by family. Research reveals that for every missing person reported, on average at least 12 other people are affected whether it is emotionally, physically, psychologically or financially. For families, not knowing what has happened to someone they love is devastating.

Impacts on missing persons

For the missing person themselves it is often difficult to find the support they require to address their situation. Research conducted in the UK found that “being labelled as missing was traumatic […] and the loss of control to talk about their experiences in a way that was meaningful for them added to the trauma.” Geographies of Missing Persons 2013

People who intentionally go missing often do so to escape or remove themselves from something that isn’t making them happy. These people are generally lacking the support they require to manage their situation and may feel that going missing is their only option. Improving community support is key to reducing the impacts on missing persons.

Impact on the community

Part of our mandate is to reduce the impact of missing persons on the Australian community. Awareness of the issue and enhancing community support mechanisms are key parts of our strategy.

2017: Still waiting for you to come home

National Missing Persons Week (NMPW) 2017, aims to raise awareness around the high number of ‘youth’ who are reported missing to police each year.

The theme of ‘youth’ was selected as an outcome of the AFP commissioned research ‘Missing Persons in Australia 2008 - 2015’ statistical bulletin (PDF 370KB). The research conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) with data supplied by our state and territory police, found three out of five missing persons reports recorded by police related to a young person under the age of 18. Those in the age bracket of 13 to 17 years accounted for 19,000 of the 38,000 or 50% of all missing persons reports recorded by police each year.

The graphics for this year’s campaign, focus on those families left behind following the disappearance of a loved one, with a message not only to youth, but all missing persons; ‘Still waiting for you to come home’. This message provides hope to all families.

Youth missing

There are many terms that relate to ‘missing’, including disappearance, abduction (both stranger and parental), running away, homelessness, squatting, couch surfing, sleeping rough, staying with friends, going walkabout or just heading off. All these terms can be considered as ‘missing’ if there is a concern for a person’s safety and welfare and their whereabouts are unknown. It may be that young people have been reported missing and don’t realise.

A very small percentage of missing persons cases in Australia are stranger abductions. Young people (those under the age of 18) go missing for a number of reasons including family and social conflict, wanting to become independent, being the victim of crime, forgetting to communicate, mental health problems, drugs/alcohol abuse as well as escaping from other abuse and neglect.

Most young people who are reported missing disappear for short periods of time before either being located or returning home. Going missing is seen by young people as a way of resolving tension or conflict at home or within friendship groups, but if the underlying factors are not addressed when they return and the issues remain, they are at greater risk of going missing again.

Factors that should be considered in determining if a young person is at risk of going missing include deteriorating academic performance, truancy, personality/mood changes, acting out and risk taking behaviors, inappropriate peer groups and substance abuse.

Whilst it is not a crime to go missing there are vulnerabilities present when someone disappears. Lack of access to support, financial constraints, poor hygiene, substance abuse etc. may all impact on a young person’s ability to keep safe.

Missing Person Julian Rapadas

Julian RAPADAS

Julian Rapadas, then aged 21 years, was last sighted at 7pm on 18 November 2008. His last known location was at the home of a Finks Motorcycle Club member who is now also...

Missing Person Jamie Herdman

Jamie HERDMAN

Jamie Herdman was reported missing on 5 December 2006. His vehicle was later located abandoned at the Highway Inn, Daly Waters, Northern Territory, yet his whereabouts remain...

Missing Person Linda Grimstone

Linda GRIMSTONE

At about 8.50am on 4 September 2000, Linda Grimstone dropped her two children off at Croydon Hills Primary and did not return to pick them up. Police enquiries have revealed...

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