Question: Do you need to wait 24 hours before reporting a person missing?

You do not have to wait 24 hours to report someone as missing.  If you have serious concerns for the safety and welfare of a person, and their whereabouts are unknown, then you may immediately report them missing to your local police. Police will take a report where there are concerns for safety and welfare and their whereabouts are unknown.

Question: Is going missing a crime?

Going missing itself is not a crime.

Question: How many people are reported missing each year in Australia?

It is estimated that 35,000 people are reported missing each year in Australia. This equates to one person every 15 minutes. This is a rate of 1.7 people per 1,000 Australians (Missing Persons in Australia 2008).

Question: How many people are located each year?

Of the estimated 35,000 people who are reported missing in Australia, more than 95 per cent are located within a short period of time (usually one week). However there remains a significant number, more than 1,600, who are listed as long-term missing, that is, missing for more than six months (Missing Persons in Australia 2008).

Question: How many people are still missing after a long period of time?

There remains more than 1,600 missing persons in Australia who are listed as long-term missing, that is, missing for more than six months.

Question: Who goes missing?

There are three primary groups at risk of going missing: those suffering from a mental illness, young people (particularly females aged between 13 to 17 years) and the elderly (Missing Persons in Australia 2008).

Out of the estimated 35,000 missing persons reports, 20,000 are under the age of 18.

Question: Why do people go missing?

Reasons for going missing are many and varied, voluntary and involuntary.

Reasons for going missing include anxiety and depression, misadventure, homelessness, dementia, domestic violence, becoming a victim of crime, drugs/alcohol abuse

For young people, family dysfunction and conflict, miscommunication, issues associated with puberty and peer pressure, mental health issues, child abuse/neglect, poor coping skills and drug and alcohol problems are amongst some of the reasons for going missing.

Question: How many missing persons are reported in each State/Territory?

The majority of missing person's reports are from the States with a higher population, including New South Wales and Victoria.

Police Jurisidiction

No. Missing Persons Reported (2005-06)


















30, 288

(Missing Persons in Australia 2008)

Question: Can people go missing more than once?

Approximately one third of missing persons go missing more than once. Each time a person does goes missing, it is treated as an individual report.

Question: Are missing children likely to be abducted?

Most children that are reported missing are located safe and well within 24 hours. Common reasons for children going missing include a breakdown in communication, family conflict, domestic violence, mental health issues, peer pressure and drug/alcohol abuse. Only a small percentage of missing children are the result of stranger abductions.

Question: Can adults be reported as missing?

In Australia, anyone can be reported as missing if their disappearance is out of character and there are concerns for their safety and welfare.

Question: Do I have to report a missing person to the police station closest to where they were last seen?

If you have concerns about a missing person you can visit your local police station to file a missing persons report - even if the missing person lives in another State or Territory to you. If the investigation has to be conducted in another town, state or territory the case may be transferred.

To file a missing persons report, you must attend your local police station.  Reports made over the telephone are only accepted in South Australia.

Question: Are details about missing persons kept confidential?

All details about missing persons are kept confidential and are not made available to the public unless permission has been granted by the family of the missing person and investigating officers.

Question: Do police provide the address and details of a missing person to the person who reported them missing once they are found?

When located, a missing person must give permission before their whereabouts are released. In the case of a located missing child, information and decisions regarding their circumstances and their location may be made in consultation with relevant agencies.

Question: What happens when an Australian is missing overseas?

Where there are concerns for the safety and welfare of an Australian missing overseas, a missing person's report can be made with local State or Territory police, who will then lodge the report to Interpol to facilitate international cooperation in investigating the whereabouts of the missing person.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Consular Operations) may also be contacted to assist where there are concerns for the safety and welfare of an Australian citizen overseas.

Tracing agencies such as the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the International Social Service Australia also work to reunite people missing overseas.

Question: When a parent abducts a child, is the child considered a missing person?

Parental abductions occur where a child has been taken by a parent without consent.  A Court may issue a recovery order under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) when a parental abduction has occurred.  The child is not considered a missing person unless there is evidence to suggest threat or danger to the child.  In this case then a missing persons report may also be filed with local police.

Question: How do missing persons statistics in Australia compare with other countries?

In Australia an estimated 35,000 people are reported missing each year compared with 220,000 in the United Kingdom and 16,000 in New Zealand.

The rate of missing persons in Australia is 1.7 per 1,000 people. In the United Kingdom it's 3.6 per 1,000 people.

Although this data gives a rough comparison, each State / Territory and country record information relating to missing persons differently. For example, in the United States, missing adults are not accounted for as they are not defined as ‘missing'.