National missing persons coordination centre

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.

Go to ACT Policing

Australian Federal Police