Education and training
To effectively prevent, locate, and provide support to missing persons requires an informed understanding of missing persons issues. Our education and training initiatives are driven by the need for a national approach to responding to missing persons issues in Australia.
The NMPCC has developed targeted education and training materials to assist agencies and professionals within the missing persons sector and other services to enable all agencies to better respond to missing persons, their families and the community.
A major initiative launched in October 2007 was the development of a national counselling framework Supporting those who are left behind to assist counsellors in addressing the specific needs of families and friends of missing persons.
Working with families of missing persons
For every missing person case reported, it is estimated that at least 12 others are affected whether it is emotionally, psychologically, physically or financially. This means that a significant number of people endure the trauma associated with the unresolved loss of a loved one. For some, the impact on theirs lives in momentary; for others it is a lifetime.
There is a lack of literature exploring the specific needs of unresolved loss for families and friends of missing persons. Some professionals have attempted to align the experience with the concepts of grief and bereavement; others have linked the experience to a form of post-traumatic stress response. Research indicates that this approach does not take into account the long-term ramifications of never gaining closure when a missing person's whereabouts remains unknown.
Previously, no model existed that allowed professionals to explore the specific needs of families and friends of missing persons. In response, the NMPCC developed a national counselling framework Supporting those who are left behind.
Working with young people
Young Australians are a significant group at risk of going missing. Out of the 38,000 missing persons reports received by police each year, young people under the age of 18 account for approximately 23,000 of all reports.
Young people go missing for a number of reasons including escape from family conflict or school bullying, depression, wanting to become independent, being a victim of crime, forgetting to communicate or suffering from mental health problems (refer to our Are you working with a young person at risk of going missing fact sheet).
The NMPCC has partnered with Reconnect, a program of the Department of Social Services to develop a referral network to address the ongoing support of young people who are at risk of going missing or have previously gone missing.
Research indicates that the risk factors relevant to homelessness are almost identical to those in relation to ‘missing’. Repeated episodes of missing may also increase the likelihood of a young person becoming homeless.
Reconnect uses community-based early intervention services to assist young people aged 12 to 18 years who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, and their families. Reconnect assists young people stabilise their living situation and improve their level of engagement with family, work, education, training and their local community.
One of the primary challenges in supporting young people is what to do once they are located. Approximately one third of young people go missing more than once. Reconnect may assist in resolving some of the issues relating to a young person going missing.
Referrals to Reconnect can be made by a health professional, a family member or a young person at risk of going missing. To contact your local Reconnect Office, phone 1800 813 750 or refer to the following fact sheets:
- NSW Reconnect
- Victoria Reconnect
- Queensland Reconnect
- Tasmania Reconnect
- South Australia Reconnect
- Western Australia Reconnect
Mental Health Resources
Here are some useful links to agencies offering resources, information and support services.
- Lifeline: if you or someone you know needs immediate help, call Lifeline (24 hours): 13 11 14.
- healthdirect Australia: if you have a non-urgent health concern and you are not sure what to do call 1800 022 222 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Mind Health Connect
- Mental Health Association NSW
- Mental Health Council of Australia
- Carers Australia
- Black Dog Institute