National missing persons coordination centre

History of the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre

Happy family with missing loved one symbolised by a white silhouette

National Missing Persons Unit

In May 1995, the Hon. Duncan Kerr, Minister for Justice, identified the need for the development of a comprehensive national response to the problem and tragedy of missing persons. This included the establishment of a National Missing Persons Bureau which would:

  • concentrate on outstanding missing persons and circulate missing persons profiles within Australia and overseas
  • use Interpol and/or the Australian Federal police’s overseas network to follow up leads, emphasise the search for missing children, and record foreign nationals missing in Australia
  • raise public awareness of the problem of missing persons.

The Minister also announced Commonwealth funding to be administered by the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI) to establish the Bureau. The formation of the National Missing Persons Unit (NMPU) was a key component of the Government's Safer Australia strategy.

In July 2003 the NMPU was re-located to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The operation of the NMPU continued until 2006.

National Missing Persons Coordination Centre

The Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances of the Immigration Detention of Cornelia Rau, conducted by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mr Palmer (the Palmer Report) and released in July 2005, contained a series of recommendations relevant to missing persons.

Following the release of the report, the Prime Minister wrote to all Premiers and Chief Ministers seeking their cooperation to implement those recommendations.

In 2006, the Australian Government agreed to enhance the national coordination of missing persons issues by establishing the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) which absorbed the existing National Missing Persons Unit. The unit was renamed the NMPCC to better reflect its primary role of coordinating a more effective response to the issue of missing persons within the Australian context. Through additional funding the Australian Government cemented its commitment to missing persons and their families.

The vision of the NMPCC is for an informed Australian community united in its efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of missing persons in Australia. The NMPCC works in partnership with state and territory police services, Commonwealth and state government agencies, non-government agencies, and families and friends of missing persons.

Primary goals for the NMPCC were to:

  • enhance prevention and education around missing persons through an improved advertising campaign, greater community interaction, the development of preventative strategies and a greater involvement with ‘at risk groups’.
  • enhance the current networks by establishing new relationships with broader government and non-government agencies on missing persons. 
  • establish communication mechanisms across the national missing persons sector which will provide an avenue for both government and non-government agencies to be kept informed of initiatives and relevant issues within missing persons.
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