What is a missing person?

In Australia, a missing person is defined as:

Anyone who is reported missing to police, whose whereabouts are unknown, and there are fears for the safety or concern for the welfare of that person.

While there is a single definition used by police to describe a missing person, there are a variety of different circumstances which fit that description. A missing person may be a victim of misadventure, someone suffering from a health related issue (i.e. dementia), someone needing time out, or simply someone not where they are expected to be.

People talk about ‘missing’ in different ways including disappearance, abduction, homelessness, running away, couch surfing, sleeping rough, going walkabout or heading off. Missing persons can be of any age, gender, ethnicity, or background and the reasons why people go missing are many and varied.

Long term missing persons

When a missing persons case lasts longer than three months, the case is considered to be long term. Every missing persons case remains active until the missing person is located.

There are some circumstances where a person does not fit the police definition of a missing person but where loved ones are feeling the same loss due to their absence.

Missing Person Carolyn Wilson

Carolyn WILSON

Carolyn Wilson has been missing since 20 April 2001 and was last seen in the vicinity of Melbourne. Carolyn's car, a dark green Daewoo Cielo, is also missing. Despite...

Missing Person Stella Farrugia


On Thursday 18 October 1984, Stella Farrugia, then aged 18 years, was reported missing by her boyfriend. He said that he last saw her at her home address on Seaview Road,...

Missing Person John Hines


John Hines was last seen in the morning hours of 30 May 1997 in Coombabah at his home residence. He left to go to Southport to meet some friends and has not been seen...

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