FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here's a list of the most common questions I am asked, in red and my answers below, in purple.
Someone I know is missing - do I have to wait 24 hours before reporting them missing?
NO. This is a common myth. If you are genuinely concerned for the safety of the person, if their disappearance is out of character and you are worried then contact the Police IMMEDIATELY. This is especially urgent for cases of children and the elderly. Don't panic, but don't wait too long.
How do I report someone missing?
You can phone the Police but it's better to go to your nearest Police Station in person, then you can physically give them a photo of the missing person and also be able to speak to other Police officers like Detectives if necessary instead of them having to come and find you later. The quicker the investigation starts, the better.
What do I need to take with me when I report someone missing?
Prior to reporting someone missing at a Police Station take 'time out' to collect your thoughts, so you can help Police investigating in the most likely direction.
When you attend a police station to report someone missing, it will help Police if you bring along the following information: a recent photograph of the missing person, a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of friends and associates, likely destinations eg. favourite places, work locations or places with past connections, any medical requirements or medications they need, a full description of the missing person including height, weight, colour of eyes and hair, and their bank account details so Police can check if they have used their account and if so, where the transactions were made.
Do I have to be a family member to report someone missing?
No. If your flatmate didn't come home last night, for example, you can definitely go and report them missing yourself. It's fine for a friend or employer etc to make the report.
What do I do if I think I know where a missing person currently is?
You can call Crimestoppers - 1800 333 000 or you can report it to any Police Station. You can also contact the National Missing Persons Co-ordination Centre on 1800 000 634. You can also contact me if you prefer, and I can pass the details along to the Police for you.
It is NOT a crime to go missing so the person will NOT be in trouble if you report that you have seen them. You would be doing the right thing. If they have been reported missing then someone out there loves them so much they are very worried about them. The missing person's right to privacy is respected at all times so if the Police do contact them and the person does not wish to return home then by law they cannot be forced to return home, and their location can also remain completely private. Here's an example - a woman suffers years of physical abuse from her husband and decides one day she cannot take it anymore and decides to leave and start a new life. She travels interstate and starts her life again. Her husband reports her missing and her description and photo are circulated to every police station and to the media and to my website. Someone recognises her photo and decides to ring Crimestoppers. The police interstate go to speak with the woman and verify that she is currently safe and well and has chosen to start a new life. The woman states she does not want any further contact with her husband, does not wish to go home and does not want her husband to know where she is. The Police will go back to her husband and ALL they will tell him is that she is safe and well. They will NOT reveal her location or any details about her. This means she can be taken off the Missing Persons lists and she can contuinie her life peacefully.
Another situation to consider that happened to a recently found missing woman - she was located interstate and recognised by a nurse in a hospital from a Missing Person's poster. The woman was suffering from Amnesia or a serious psychological illness and when discovered she insisted she was not the person they were looking for, yet she had been living in her new life for many years. In that situation, although she seemed happy her family were frantically worried about her and she clearly had an illness that needed to be treated medically.
How do I contact you?
I can be e mailed - email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or phoned - 0422 341 955
I have seen or know someone who really looks like one of the photos but I am not sure, should I still report it?
Yes. Better to report it and be wrong than never to report it and possibly leave someone who may need help remain in a bad situation. You may hold the vital piece of the puzzle Police are looking for.
Do you investigate missing persons cases yourself?
No. I am not trained or qualified to do that. Every piece of information that is given to me I pass on immediately to the Police.
What services do you offer?
I can add your missing family member or friend to this website. I can add a personal message from you to them in case they check the internet for their own name and find themselves on the website. I can add as many photos as you like to help people identify them. I can provide support and comfort to the friends and families of the missing, an ear to listen if you just need to talk. Please note I am NOT a trained counsellor, but so far the families of the missing have indicated that I do provide comfort to them and many have said that trained therapists usually have no experience at all in dealing with missing persons cases, so it helps to talk to someone like me who understands. I can check in with you to see how you're coping, and if you're not coping I will get you some help. Most of all, I will remember your missing person, for as long as it takes. This is a place you can come to visit them, 24 hours a day, they will have their own page and they will be remembered.
I am currently helping set up some support groups for the families and friends of the missing, if that's something you'd like to know more about please contact me. This would be usually informal gatherings of groups, maybe for coffee mornings etc and you can just provide some comfort to one another as you go through this difficult time, talk to people who really understand as they are experiencing it all too.
I can also assist families if you have questions about the many issues arising from missing persons cases, like privacy laws, dealing with Police and Media, Coronial Inquests - many of these things are very new to families who have never had anything to do with them before and it can be upsetting and daunting to consider. There are lots of people available to help and I can answer questions myself and also point you in the right direction for professional help. You are not alone!
Are there any fees or charges for putting someone on the website?
NEVER. The work I do is 100% voluntary and I do not accept any money ever from anyone with a missing person case.
If some weathy company out there decides they'd like to give me some money to further this work then it would be enthusiastically received but no person who has lost someone they love should ever have to pay anything to anyone for their help. I do this because it needs to be done, I have no personal agenda, I pay for all phone calls and photohosting and internet fees and any other expenses out of my own pocket.
This website is now hosted free of charge by a wonderful company called www.crowsnestshire.com and I am eternally grateful for their help and generosity!
Does a person have to have been reported missing to the Police for you to add them to the website?
Generally yes. As explained I only deal with cases where there is concern for the welfare of the missing person. There are occasional exceptions to this rule; in one recent case the missing man's sister has tried a phenomenal number of avenues to try and locate her brother, all of which have not as yet succeeded, and this includes trying to report him to the Police, however sometimes the Police are reluctant to take the report if it is believed the missing person may have deliberately wanted to break off contact with their family.
I tried to report someone missing to the Police but they didn't want to take the report, what do I do now?
This occasionally happens, but it shouldn't. You have the right to insist that they take the report and you have to right to insist on speaking with a more senior officer if you are unhappy with the way your issue has been handled.
The Police will respond to your case based on your own information to them. 30,000 people a year go missing in Australia and if you add on those people who have fallen out of touch over the years, it's a vast number. The Police have to make sure the person they are investigating is genuinely missing. I get a great many enquiries from people who have simply lost touch with loved ones - someone moves, someone gets married and changes their name and suddenly you don't know how to contact them anymore. That person is NOT missing in the sense that it needs to be investigated by the Police, as the person is very likely simply living their life somewhere. A missing person is someone for whom their disappearance is a cause for worry for their family. If you were in regular contact and that contact SUDDENLY stops, that's cause for concern.
The general rule is, if you are really worried for someone's safety and welfare then the Police should investigate. If you think the person is probably fine but you just don't know how to get in touch with them, then that is something the Salvation Army Family Tracing Service can help with or other people like Private Investigators.
The Police found my missing person but they won't tell me where they are - what can I do now?
Unfortunately, nothing. I know it's frustrating but as I mentioned before every person has the right to privacy and if they have indicated they don't want their whereabouts known then there's really nothing else you can do. Take comfort in knowing that they are safe and well and that they have been made aware that you were searching for them, and try to move on with your life knowing that you did all you could.
Do you have a missing person in your family or friends?
No. When I first started this website I did have a good friend recognise his mother on here (!) and this was a woman I had personally known myself before she died, and I had no idea she was a missing person (none of us did, she had started a new life and we knew the "new" her). Long story but I was able to help clear up that case. Not having anyone personally missing myself helps me to help you better, as I can focus all my energies into helping all of you.
Why do you do this?
A difficult question. The closest I can come to explaining it is this is what I was "meant" to do with my life. A lady with a missing niece once said to me "You are the voice of the missing" and that means the world to me. The missing can't speak, so we have to make sure they are not forgotten and they remain with us until they are found. More information about me can be found on the About Me page.
Someone owes me money or child support and I want to track them down, can you help me?
Sorry, no. I only deal with missing persons who have been reported to the Police and/or for whom there is concern over their welfare. There are Private Investigators who can help you but as I have never worked with or used a P.I. I can't really give any firsthand recommendations. There are a couple who I have had contact with whose names I can pass on if requested.
I was adopted out as a baby, can you help me locate my birth family?
I am not trained to do that, but I can point you in the right direction for how to start your search so by all means contact me and I'll see what I can do. There are many government agencies that can help you. My own mother recently traced her birth family after an adoption over 60 years ago and discovered she had 4 sisters, and she has now met her other family. So I am happy to help you out with personal experience and I can also help a bit with counselling through all these feelings you'll be having, it's never an easy thing to do and I am still coming to terms with my own situation a bit.
I, or a member of my family has not seen someone in our family for many years, we have lost touch. Can you trace them?
I work with a wonderful family researcher who may be able to help you but she is very busy with cases, so unless your case is urgent - for example if you have a gravely ill person in your family who wants to be reunited with someone before they die - then there may be a wait for her services. There may also sometimes be a fee, if she has to locate various certificates etc that the goverment charges fees to obtain. She does not make a profit from this work, like me she wants to help reunite families. The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service does a wonderful job also and the links to their service are on the Links page.
Do you recommend the use of psychics to find missing persons?
NO. Please see the News page of this website for my opinion about the use of psychics. And to learn about the devastating effects so-called "psychics" can have on the family of a missing person, please see the story about missing woman Sarah Spiers' Dad, Don - when you read his story, you will understand why I will NEVER recommend the use of a psychic and why I endeavour to protect the families from them.