Media Release: National Missing Persons Week urges Australians to 'Follow Your Instincts'

Media scrum following the launch of National Missing Persons Week 2015

The Australian Federal Police and NSW Police Force have launched the 2015 National Missing Persons Week campaign to raise awareness of the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons.

Acting Australian Federal Police Commissioner Michael Phelan and NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Peter Barrie officially launched the week-long campaign in Sydney today (Monday 3 August 2015), where they reminded Australians you don’t have to wait 24 hours before reporting someone missing.

In 2015, the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) is urging people to ‘Follow Your Instincts’ if you suspect someone you know is missing.

“There is no minimum timeframe associated with reporting someone missing. The very definition of a missing person is where there are ‘concerns for the safety and welfare of a person’, and ‘their whereabouts are unknown’,” acting Commissioner Phelan said.

“A colleague that fails to turn up to work without notice; a parent that doesn’t return from a walk; a son that misses a birthday dinner... If a person’s disappearance is out of character and you have concerns for their safety and welfare, follow your instincts and report to police immediately.”

Long-term missing persons from each State and Territory are being profiled as part of the campaign, including NSW missing person Ursula Barwick, who was last seen in Kings Cross in December 1987. Her father Peter Barwick, and cousin, Melissa Pouliot, spoke at the launch, together with Assistant Commissioner Barrie.

“Our hope is that today’s appeal will help bring closure to Ursula’s family after nearly 30 years of not knowing what’s happened,” Assistant Commissioner Barrie said.
“In 2014, almost 12,000 people were reported missing in NSW, and while the majority were located safe and well, 57 still remain missing.

“National Missing Persons Week therefore gives us an opportunity to remember those who are still lost, and garner new leads that could help bring them home,” Assistant Commissioner Barrie said.

 “Kings Cross police have formed Strike Force Hemingway as they continue inquiries to establish the exact circumstances surrounding Ursula’s disappearance, and they’re keen to hear from anyone who may be able to shed new light on the investigation.”

An age-progressed image of Ursula, which was created by the AFP NMPCC, has been released to media to illustrate what she may look like today.

“Someone knows something about Ursula’s disappearance, so no matter how insignificant it may seem, I urge them to contact police immediately,” Assistant Commissioner Barrie said.

As part of this year’s campaign, the AFP has also launched a partnership with the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) to profile long-term missing persons on billboards, taxi backs, bus shelters and digital out-of-home channels Australian wide.

The out-of-home advertising will complement media and social media efforts, along with community service announcements on free-to-air television and long-time partners, Foxtel’s Criminal Investigations network.

“We thank all our corporate supporters—Chemist Warehouse, McDonalds, the OMA, and Foxtel—who continue to profile missing persons cases in support of our coordinated efforts,” acting Commissioner Phelan said.

“This combined exposure of missing persons may trigger someone to provide information to police, bringing resolution to families and friends who long await news.”

The OMA have also been working in partnership with the NSW Police Force to help promote the profiles of missing persons around the state.

OMA CEO, Charmaine Moldrich, said the Out-of-Home industry is committed to contributing to, and supporting, the community.

“We are proud to continue our longstanding relationship with the New South Wales Police Force – our support of their National Missing Persons Week campaign now spans seven consecutive years – and taking the campaign to a national audience in partnership with the AFP is a natural progression,” Ms Moldrich said. 

Our audiences keep growing and our digital reach is increasing – using this unique position to broadcast critical information that could bring solace to people in need is very important to us.”

National Missing Persons Week runs from Sunday 2 August to Saturday 8 August 2015.

Profiles of missing persons can be viewed at
Media enquiries:
AFP Media Andrew Gordon: (02) 6131 6333

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