National Missing Persons Week 2021: Australian Federal Police forensic artist explains how age progressed images of missing persons created

***Editor’s note:  A video of AFP forensic artist Sean Carling explaining the age progression process is available via hightail *** 

The Australian Federal Police is revealing how its digital artists created a series of unique age-progressed images that captured how seven Australians, who have been missing for up to 40 years, could look today.

The images were featured in a series of short videos released this week as part of National Missing Persons Week 2021, which runs until Saturday with the theme of: “Their face might have changed. Missing them hasn’t”.

In a new video produced by the AFP, forensic artist Sean Carling says the process relies heavily on input from the family of the missing person.

“What we do is closely replicate their appearance when they went missing so similar hairstyles,” he says in the video.

“Obviously if it’s a hairstyle that has severely dated we might update that a little bit. We rely on the families to give us as much information as possible. They know their missing loved one the most. We are trying to take what we can see in a couple of images to try and replicate their family member. Of course that’s never going to come close to what information the family members can provide”.

Mr Carling said the AFP’s forensic artists generally had a background in fine arts, graphic art or digital imaging and received extra training in anatomy, especially of the head and neck, to better understand the ageing process. 

The final age progression images developed by the AFP forensic artists have featured in seven short videos released this week, each highlighting a long-term missing person. The AFP worked closely with state and territory police missing persons units, which supplied the following long-term missing person’s profiles:

Elaine Johnson (NSW)

Suzanne Lawrance (VIC)

Christine Fenner (QLD)

Laura Haworth (ACT)

Jason Mazurek (TAS)

Sophie Woodman (WA)

Nathan McLaughlin (NT)

To view the age progression videos, please follow AFP and NMPCC social media channels here: and

National Missing Persons Week

National Missing Persons Week is supported by the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) whose members have generously donated advertising space in support of NMPW 2021. The donated space will highlight the seven missing persons’ profiles on either static or moving billboards across Australia.

Members of the community sharing their stories and support throughout NMPW 2021 are encouraged to use the hashtag #NMPW2021.

In 2020, there were more than 51,000 missing persons reports made to police in Australia, which is more than 140 on every day of the year. Any person missing for more than three months is classified as a long-term missing person. There are approximately 2,600 long-term missing persons in Australia.

For further information on the age progression process please visit the NMPCC website:

Media is encouraged to read the Counselling Framework for guidance when working with families of missing people. 

About missing persons in Australia

In Australia, a missing person is defined as anyone who is reported missing to police, whose whereabouts are unknown, and where there are fears for the safety or concern for the welfare of that person. A long-term missing person is someone who has been missing for more than three months.

About the NMPCC

The AFP’s National Missing Persons Coordination Centre plays an active role in coordinating national police efforts, and educating the Australian community to prevent the incidence and impact of missing persons in Australia.

The National Missing Persons Coordination Centre is a non-operational arm of the AFP which put simply means, the team is not involved in the investigations of missing persons. All investigations are undertaken by the relevant State and Territory police.

In support of NMPW, the AFP NMPCC coordinates an annual police campaign with State and Territory police, highlighting a different theme each year to raise awareness of the significant issues associated with missing persons and profile long-term missing persons to reduce the incidence and impact of missing persons in Australia.

The annual police campaign compliments other campaigns, events, initiatives and memorial services run by families with a missing loved one, advocacy networks, government and non-government organisations, and members of the public.  

Media enquiries
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

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