Australian Federal Police (AFP) Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin and South Australia Police Deputy Commissioner Grant Stevens have launched National Missing Persons Week in Adelaide this week.
This year the campaign will focus primarily on people living with a mental illness as one of the key groups at risk of going missing.
Deputy Commissioner Colvin said this year was of particular significance for the AFP’s National Missing Persons Coordination Centre.
“Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Missing Persons Week and our ongoing commitment to raising awareness of the issues and factors associated with missing persons, particularly the impact of mental illness,” Deputy Commissioner Colvin said.
Approximately 35,000 people are reported missing to Australian police every year. This is equivalent to one every 15 minutes.
“Research shows that one of the factors which may contribute to someone going missing is poor mental health and the impact that has on a person’s ability to cope with life’s challenges.
“The 2013 campaign theme, ‘See the signs before they disappear’, aims to encourage people to look out for signs that someone they know may not be coping, and to seek help before they disappear.”
Deputy Commissioner Stevens said this prevention-based approach raises awareness of how mental illness contributes to a person’s likelihood of going missing.
“By educating the public to recognise the signs that someone isn’t coping, we can protect vulnerable members of our community.
“People suffering from a mental illness may go missing because they believe there is no alternative.
“We want to reassure anyone who is struggling to cope that they do have options and help is available,” Deputy Commissioner Stevens said.
As part of this year’s initiative, the AFP has teamed up with Google and VML Australia to develop a unique YouTube advertising campaign to help locate missing persons.
“For the first time in Australia, a YouTube pre-roll advertisement will bring the ‘milk carton’ concept into the digital age by featuring the profiles of missing persons,” said Deputy Commissioner Colvin.
“To further maximise the potential of these ads generating information about missing persons, they will also be geo-tagged so that viewers are shown missing persons profiles predominately from their area.”
At least one million Australians will be exposed to this campaign via YouTube throughout the week.
For more information about National Missing Persons Week, visit www.missingpersons.gov.au