What Happens In Australia When Someone Is Classified As A Missing Person?

Each Hey there, Steve here and welcome to this week’s private eye post, where I provide you with some insight into what happens in Australia when someone goes missing.

[If you landed on this page and actually want to report someone missing, please contact your local police station immediately, or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000]

Disclaimer: The information on this page is general information only, and is subject to change. Please contact us for help with your individual situation.

Someone is only classified as a missing person when a missing person report is filed with the police. You should report someone missing as soon as possible, if you suspect something is wrong. You do not have to wait for 24 hours. Australian police forces follow a set missing person protocol.

#1 Assess Urgency For Media Release

Missing person situations are immediately urgent when a young child, or a person with diminished capacities, goes missing and are much more likely to be quickly released to local media outlets.

#2 Initial Checks

Although each situation is individual, the first checks the police will consider are:

  • A search of the home of the missing person. Are they there? Is there any evidence that can help them.
  • A search of the last-known whereabouts of the person, which will include asking any potential witnesses.
  • A check of local hospitals.
#3 Furthering The Enquiry

If the person isn’t found, and no new timeline information has been acquired from witnesses then it’s time for the police to deepen the enquiry. This involves things like:

  • Contacting mobile phone operators and financial institutions.
  • Delving into social media accounts and internet history.
  • Knocking doors in areas where witnesses may be able to help.
  • Interviewing friends and family.
  • Raising media awareness.
# 4 Long Term Missing Persons

A “Long Term Missing Person” is someone who has been missing for more than three months. The person is added to the Australian National Register.


Each year Australian police receive ver 38,000 missing person reports. Thankfully most are found quickly. Approximately 1600 become long term missing persons. We offer a variety of missing persons services, all tailored to an individual case need. Please contact us if you need help.

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Until next week,