Missing children: advice, information and preventive action for parents, teachers and counsellors


This publication provides preventative information, advice and suggestions aimed at reducing the likelihood of children going missing. One of the most valuable aspects of this booklet is the Directory of Helping Services which covers counselling, advice and referral agencies and organisations that can provide help and support for parents, families and friends of missing children.


My interest in runaway teenagers grew out of my contact with them 'on the street' and through community referrals as an Outreach Youth Worker for the YMCA and the City of Frankston for the past nine years. Apart from direct involvement with missing teenagers and their distressed families, I was awarded a Queen Elizabeth 11 Silver Jubilee Trust grant to study services for runaways and their families in the United States. In 1985, 1 carried out this study - an invaluable experience documented in Our Missing Children - a report on teenage runaways. I have continued to work with Victoria Police and community groups such as the YMCA and Parents of Missing Children Inc. to improve knowledge and services. During these years, I have witnessed a gradual appreciation that such a youth problem does exist here in Australia. However, appreciation of this community problem has not necessarily lead to action or improvement of the situation and there is much to be done by governments and communities.

This booklet is a beginning. The major emphasis is prevention and, as such, is important reading for parents and those involved in supporting families. It brings together a wealth of advice from policing and child welfare bodies, youth services, self-help organisations and experts in the field of missing persons. It is by no means just a booklet for parents of 'missing' or 'problem' teenagers. Rather it is for everybody concerned with the safety and well-being of children. I commend those involved in this publication and believe it will be of considerable benefit in supporting families and protecting children in Australia.

Christine Vincent
Springvale South
March 1988


The problem of missing children is a social issue of particular concern to police, parents, teachers, counsellors and indeed all associated with the welfare of children. In the past emphasis in this area has focused on the sensationalism of abductions, abuse, runaways and murders. Little has been written on prevention.

This booklet improves that situation by providing information, simple suggestions and practical advice aimed at preventing missing children.

Most schools today teach children to beware of strangers. Such programs are of little value if parents avoid responsibility for the safety of their children. Parents need to be continually aware concerning their child's development, well-being and safety. This booklet offers parents, teachers and counsellors specific advice in these areas.

There are two major principles of prevention encompassed in this booklet. The first aims to raise parents' awareness of preventive methods and the second will educate parents to warning signs in their child's behaviour and suggest appropriate action.

Clearly parents have different values, degrees of possessiveness and levels of concern. Some children are naturally more cautious than others and therefore require less concern as to their safety. Thus, although the various categories of advice offered will have different degrees of relevance to different parents in different circumstances, all advice has some relevance to all parents.

Few parents are so placed to be able to follow all advice given, but it is up to individuals to consider what they feel is important and appropriate in their particular circumstances.

For teachers, refuge workers, counsellors, welfare workers, police officers and others concerned with child safety and welfare, this booklet is a valuable educational tool, reference and referral resource.

As a cautionary note, it should be remembered that the advice offered here is not valid or correct in every case. It has been collected from experts in the field of missing children, but parents must use their own discretion when implementing the suggestions. As with most preventive advice there are no hard and fast rules for all situations.

The booklet can be divided into three major sections. The first deals with preventive methods and techniques: warning signs in a child's behaviour and suggests possible action. The second section provides advice to be followed and appropriate actions to be taken by parents if their child goes missing. It also looks at common reactions of parents and examines coping and grief. The final section is a suggested reading list and a directory of services, organisations and groups that have proved helpful to missing children, their families and friends.

Missing Persons, a report published by the Australian Institute of Criminology, forms the basis of this booklet. Special thanks must go to its authors particularly Bruce Swanton, Paul Wilson and Lavinia Hill.

Thanks also are due to Christine Vincent for her important contribution to runaways through her work and her booklet Teenage Runaways; Sergeant Vicki Brown and her colleagues in the Community Policing Squad of the Victoria Police for the information on Protective Behaviour; The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the United States; and all the staff at the Australian Institute of Criminology who helped and supported in the production of this booklet.

Paul Wyles
March 1988

I Prevention

There is no doubt that having a child go missing under whatever circumstances has an immediate and distressing effect on parents. In a general sense the best defence against your child going missing from home is to ensure a happy, loving and stable family environment. If at all possible, constantly emphasise to your child that you love him/her very much. It is important that, in the event of a disappearance from home, the child knows a welcome awaits him on his return.

This section on prevention deals with the steps parents can take to minimise the likelihood of children running away or being abducted and, in the event of a child's disappearance, optimising the chances of an early trace.


From the earliest possible age children should know:

  • their full name
  • their parents' full names
  • their full address and telephone number their parents' work telephone number(s)

If the numbers cannot be memorised, write them on a card that can be carried by the child.

Put your child's name on the inside of his/her garments where appropriate. Do not put the child's name on the outside of clothes or books.

Your child's name and telephone number could be inscribed on the soles of his/her shoes with a heated knitting needle or a wood-burning kit. Such identification may prove useful in identifying amnesia cases.

It may be helpful for you to compile an identification file on your child which could include:

  • a recent colour photograph (pre-schoolers should be photographed at least four times a year)
  • name and address physical description
  • a lock of hair
  • telephone number
  • school
  • copy of birth certificate
  • medication data and medical condition
  • blood type
  • previous illnesses
  • immunisation record
  • allergies
  • speech impediments
  • X-rays and dental records
  • a footprint
  • sample of handwriting
  • tape recording of child's voice
  • passport

Holding your child's passport is a good form of identification. An Australian non-custodial parent cannot take out a passport for a child and remove him/her overseas but non-Australian parents may be able to. Parents can no longer place their children on their own Australian passport. Each Australian child, if required to travel overseas, must have their own travel documents or passport.

Identikid - a program supported by Lions, Polaroid and Sydney radio 2UE - began operating at various shopping centres and schools in May 1985,

  • The project supplies parents with a kit comprising a Polaroid photo-ID card of each child and a data card containing vital information.
  • The cost of the kit is $2.00.
  • Parents have details of each child's date of birth, height, weight, hair and eye colour, distinguishing marks and medication details recorded on special tamper-proof credit card-sized data cards. If parents agree, a child's fingerprints may also be recorded on the back of the card.
  • More than 80,000 children have taken advantage of Identikid.
  • Parents and teachers wishing to know more about the ldentikid program should contact: Lions Club National Office, PO Box 42, The Junction NSW 2291.

Telephone use

Children should know at the earliest possible age:

  • how to use the telephone
  • the difference between local and long distance calls
  • the procedures for reversing calls and asking for operator assistance
  • the emergency number for police (000 in all states and territories)
  • if possible, their local police station number.

The telephone directory is a useful aid in an emergency and children should be taught to use one as soon as they are able.

Should your child be unavoidably left alone at home and the telephone rings, probably the best advice you can offer is for the child to answer the call but under no circumstances admit to being alone. The child should state his parent cannot come to the telephone just at the moment but will ring back when convenient. The child should then hang up, being sure not to engage the caller in conversation.

Your child should be taught to inform you of any telephone calls answered in your absence.

Awareness and supervision

A cardinal rule to be imparted to all children is NEVER HITCH-HIKE.

If your children bus to school, be sure there is adequate protection or supervision between bus-stop and school, and home and bus-stop. If not satisfied, the matter could well be taken up at your next school parents' meeting.

Children should not solicit door-to-door or undertake letter drops on their own. If they must engage in such activities they should at least be in groups. At the present time, door-to-door solicitations of sponsorships is widely encouraged by schools and it is not uncommon to see children pestering strangers in the streets and at shopping centres for sponsorships. This behaviour places children at risk and is extremely annoying to some citizens.

When in public places with your young children, at a shopping mail, cinema or park, arrange a meeting place in case you become separated - always provided, of course, your child is old enough to understand such instructions. Never knowingly separate from a young child in a public place, especially at shopping centres and amusement parks.

Ensure your children have at least 30c on them at all times so that if they are abducted or become lost they at least have enough money for a bus fare or telephone call should they have the opportunity.

Always know the home telephone numbers of your child's friends and, as new members enter the friendship group, obtain their telephone number as well.

Know where your child is going at all times and in whose company they are. This is an inflexible rule. Similarly, encourage your child to always be in the company of at least one friend.

Be aware to the best extent possible of your child's haunts and the routes he/she and his/her friends take in going to and from those haunts. If possible, travel those routes, including the way to school, noting the location of safe houses and other places of safety, such as police stations. It is recognised many parents just do not have the opportunity to observe this advice but, where opportunity does permit, it should be followed.

Co-operation always lightens the load. Watch your children as much as reasonably possible and do the same for your neighbours. Ask your neighbours to reciprocate.

Strangers, abduction and abuse

Strangers are people a child either does not know or does not know well.

Parents and teachers must impress upon children the dangers of talking to strangers.

Children should never:

  • accept gifts from a stranger
  • approach a stranger
  • get in a stranger's car
  • hitch-hike
  • enter a stranger's house
  • play in or near public toilets or vacant houses

Children should beware of strangers who ask for directions or claim to have the child's parents' permission to do certain things, such as give them a ride home.

If approached by a stranger a child should walk quickly away and report the incident to parents and teachers as soon as possible.

If followed by a stranger a child should:

  • scream for help, and head for the safety of home or school.
  • In some areas 'Safety House' schemes are in use where children are able to seek refuge in specially identified houses if they are scared or frightened.

If grabbed by a stranger a child should:

  • create a disturbance
  • shout: 'You're not my mummy/daddy, I don't want to go with you'
  • struggle and kick providing they don't place themselves in greater danger by doing so.

It is advisable for parents and teachers to role-play some situations involving strangers in order to illustrate to children the defensive/preventative actions detailed above.

An awareness of strangers, where they are likely to approach children, and what they are likely to say or do, should be fostered in children at an early age.

Stress to your child the importance of informing you if any adult asks him/her to keep a secret, this should include relatives.

Child abuse may occur whether or not a child is abducted. Both physical and sexual abuse can precipitate a child's running away Parents and teachers should be alert to changes of mood and behaviour in a child which may indicate abuse. Indicators may be disturbed sleep, loss of appetite and mood changes. Children should be taught there are certain parts of their body that are private, ie. the parts of the body covered by bathers. If someone does touch them on those parts or wants them to touch others, children should be taught to report that fact immediately to parent or teacher. Similarly, if improper oral contact is made with a child, that too should be reported. In this context it is useful if your child knows the correct names for all body parts.

Children should be encouraged to tell their parents if anyone touches them in a way that makes them feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or frightened.

Protective behaviours

'Protective Behaviours' refers to a system of personal safety training capable of addressing many of the problems that lead to children leaving home. The program is particularly effective in assisting children to develop their own capacities to analyse and resolve problems, including the sorts of problems which lead to their running away from home.

This account of 'Protective Behaviours' is based on a description provided by Sergeant Vicki Brown of the Community Policing Squad of Victoria Police. The program addresses all forms of abuse - physical as well as psychological - and is based on the assumption that children are capable - even in a hostile environment - of taking practical, physical and psychological steps to support themselves.

'Protective Behaviours' is based on two principles:

  • we all have a right to feel safe all the time
  • there's nothing so awful we cannot talk with someone about it.

The program possesses three core concepts:

Safety - in which a child is encouraged to identify situations in which it is acceptable to feel scared, such as riding a roller coaster or watching a spooky film.

Early warning signs - in which a child feels scared and trapped (as distinguished from the above) and the child's body alerts them to danger by going weak at the knees, shallow respiration, etc., all early warning signs to a child that all is not well with him/her. Signs vary from child to child and each must learn to recognise his/her own particular signs or combination of signs.

Networking - the ideas are encouraged that: victims can play a part in preventing their own abuse, and they can obtain the help they need. Thus, a child is encouraged to identify 'others' who can be of assistance when he/she feels genuinely unsafe. Those helpful I others' form a child's network.

Five strategies maximise the effective use of these three concepts:

Theme Reinforcement The two themes: 'We all have a right to feel safe all the time' and 'Nothing is so awful that we cannot talk about it with someone', are repeated throughout the program and afterwards are reinforced by use of posters. These two themes help to counter opposing messages directed toward a child.

Network Review After a child has identified a personal network of trusted adults that can be called upon when feeling unsafe, the network must be periodically reviewed. For example, some members may have moved on or died or, perhaps, a child may no longer feel safe with members of the network. The program itself may alert a child to the fact that someone, perhaps a trusted relative, is abusing hi her.

One Step Removed A tactic in which a person with a problem can approach another person for advice. However, rather than reveal one's own problem, the initiator presents the problem as belonging to a friend or acquaintance. If reception is positive, the initiator may reveal his/her role but, if reception is negative, no harm has been done and someone else can be approached for advice.

Persistence Expectations Children seeking advice from others cannot assume that a particular person will help them; they may or may not. One should be prepared to approach a number of persons before someone actually takes appropriate action.

Protective Interrupting Persons operating in support of protective behaviours should be prepared to interrupt others, including children, being too explicit in public or in groups about their problems. Such disclosure can lead to gossip which in turn can be further destructive of the person with the problem. In such instances, the one step removed approach should be encouraged.

Parents, teachers, refuge workers, welfare officers, police officers and others interested in learning more on the topic or wishing to participate in the program should contact Sergeant Vicki Brown on (03) 320 3635. 'Protective Behaviours' in New South Wales is run by a management committee and the police representative can be contacted through Community Relations at Police Headquarters on (02) 339 0277.


Baby-sitters should be screened carefully prior to employment and parents should ensure the sitter is old enough to behave responsibly.

If the sitter is an adult, ensure he/she is trustworthy.

Although it is fair to say females are less likely to abuse a child than a male, there is a growing awareness that some females are capable of unsavoury behaviour toward children.

Both males and females are capable of abducting children and it would be catastrophic to hire a baby-sitter who subsequently abducted your child or, alternatively, hire a baby-sitter who, due to lack of commonsense or whatever, permitted an intruder to abuse or abduct your child.

Although such events are relatively rare, parents are wise to assume they could be a victim rather than that they could not.

Above all, baby-sitters should not allow anyone other than a police officer into your dwelling.

If your child can use a telephone give him/her (as well as the babysitter) the phone number of your location. If a phone number is not available give your child the number of a trusted friend.

Always listen when your child tells you that he or she does not want to be with someone. There could be a reason!

Brief your baby-sitter. A baby-sitter must be provided with:

  • your telephone number for the evening
  • your local police station's telephone number
  • a prepared list of pertinent telephone numbers (such a list should be standard in all dwellings)

In addition, baby-sitters should be briefed on how to deal with telephone calls while you are away from the house. In particular, he/she should never offer the information that he/she is the baby-sitter as such information implies your absence from the dwelling.

Your baby-sitter should never leave the house in your absence except in circumstances of emergency when it is expected that he/ she will take the children also.

To help exclude strangers from the house, have a peephole in all external doors. Locked screen doors may provide a limited alternative to a peephole. But, for apartment dwellers, a peephole is highly desirable.

Avoid leaving children at home on their own whenever possible. If a baby-sitter is unavailable, arrange for a relative or neighbour to look after the children in your absence. Indeed, to the best extent possible, try to prevent your child being alone at any time as they are most vulnerable to abductors and molesters at such times.

Absentee reporting

Truanting can be dangerous as children might place themselves in jeopardy whilst absent from school. Hanging around video arcades or similar behaviours makes them vulnerable to the attention of paedophiles. Such vulnerability can lead to abduction. Unfortunately, these days schools seem too busy to follow up most short-term absences. However, some schools do have the capacity to undertake absentee reporting should parents request such a service.

Absentee reporting can be conducted in a number of ways. The following guidelines represent an approach formulated in the United States by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement:

Teachers prepare lists of absences each morning and submit them to the school's principal.

If prior notice of absence has not been provided by a parent/ guardian, a nominated school employee immediately telephones the parent/guardian at a number previously provided.

If the parent/guardian, upon being informed of their child's absence, is unaware of any good reason for the absence, the school employee should advise the parent/guardian to remain calm and make sure someone stays at home by the telephone. The parent guardian could also be advised to check those places the child might frequent and, if the child is not quickly located, to report the absence to police.

Should the parent/guardian of an absent student not be contactable, the school principal, after checking the child's attendance record, then needs to decide whether to report the matter to police.

The phone call to the parents can be undertaken by either school employees, such as teachers, or volunteers.

Non-custodial (parental) abductions

Although the number of parental or non-custodial abductions throughout Australia is not large, some children are vulnerable to such a possibility.

If you feel your child falls within this category, it is a good idea to keep an identification file on your spouse or former spouse. The file should include:

  • name
  • nicknames
  • address(es)
  • telephone number(s)
  • physical description
  • colour photograph
  • place of work
  • known vehicle number(s) and description(s) account numbers
  • citizenship status
  • passport information
  • military service
  • organisational memberships
  • details of separation and custody orders made by the Family Court.

Try to be alert to the possible effects on your former partner of changes in his/her life, your life and the child's life. Custodial intervention can be promoted by events such as a contemplated marriage, a new job, relocation, death or serious illness of a child, and pending Family Court actions.

If at all possible, be alert to changes in your former partner's behaviour, such as:

  • change from little concern for a child to great concern
  • sudden reappearance after an absence
  • sudden friendliness after a period of conflict.

Of course, such apparent changes may not signal an intention to abduct but the possibility should be appreciated.

If you are separated, obtain legal custody as soon as possible. Without such an order both parents have equal rights to custody. Normally, police will not intervene in the event of your child being taken from one parent by the other unless you can produce a custody order.

Try to have included in your custody order a clause prohibiting the transfer of school records without the consent of both parents.

Also have included in your custody order a provision prohibiting your child leaving the country without your permission.

Be as precise and as reasonable as possible about visitation rights specified in any separation order or divorce decree. One common reason for custodial abductions is dissatisfaction with child access. With amicable agreement from the outset on times, days, weeks, months, holidays, illnesses, etc, the probability of an abduction may be reduced.

Always keep your valuable original papers, including divorce decrees, in a secure place, but keep copies of your custody order in case you need to produce it for police or other officials.

If divorce proceedings are in progress, you might consider requesting that your spouse not be permitted to leave the court's jurisdiction without consent.

If you expect abduction or harassment from your former partner, warn your baby-sitter, your child's school principal and any other relevant person.

Custodial parents with a real fear of abduction can contact the Australian Federal Police with a view to having their child's name placed on a computerised list designed to raise an alert should a named person present at passport control. Such a status lasts only three months, once approved, but can be extended. Non-custodial parents of another nationality can sometimes either place the child on their own passport or obtain a foreign passport for the child.

The 1980 Hague convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions (Parental Kidnapping) applies to children under the age of 16 years. It requires the return of a child to his/her original country, whether or not there was a custody order in existence at the time of an abduction. It applies to visitation rights as well as custody rights, although the return of a child to his/her original country might not be required to facilitate enforcement of visiting rights. Provisions of the Convention apply only when a child is taken from one ratifying country to another ratifying country, as reciprocal obligations are involved. Australia is a signatory to the Convention and has also ratified it. Other ratifying countries include Britain, Canada, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. The United States is awaiting ratifying legislation to pass Congress.

As with all prevention-oriented advice, it is impossible for one to conform with every single precaution. You can but do your best, relating your security precautions to the degree of threat perceived.

Runaways - reasons or causes

It is always difficult to establish just why (or for which particular combination of reasons) a young person runs away from home. However, Christine Vincent, in Teenage Runaways: What Can a Parent Do? has identified six reasons. This booklet has been adopted by Victoria Police and copies are distributed to parents of missing children in that state by the Missing Persons Bureau.

The six reasons identified are:

There are some young people who have been influenced by peers and/or the media and think that home is too restrictive or dull. They mistakenly believe that by running away, life will be full of freedom and good times. These young people believe they are 'running to' freedom, adventure, new places, experiences and people. It is not that home is a bad place but the young person thinks there is a more exciting and rewarding world to meet.

Other young people may run away as a reaction to real events or imaginary or anticipated consequences. Many departures are impulsive. Some young people run away impulsively following an argument with parents (usually involving restrictions) or from fear of punishment by parents for some action. For example, a young girl may run away after an argument with a parent over her desire to attend a disco. In a short time, she may return once her anger 'cools'. Depending on the circumstances, it may be a form of retaliation toward the parents. Running away may also occur as a reaction to a teenage girl's discovery that she is pregnant, or as a reaction to the expectation of suspension from school.

Some young people run away for more serious reasons which usually involve longer periods of conflict with parents. Frequently the conflict results from:

  • truancy and/or subject failure at school
  • use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • the teenager's association with friends who are law breakers
  • too many restrictions by parents on clothes, hours or work at home (from the young person's point of view).

Children may run away from forms of abuse and neglect that have continued over long periods within the family. Young people who have experienced frequent fighting with a parent or parents, sometimes resulting in personal injury, may run away to prevent its re-occurrence. Similarly, children who are sexually abused by a parent or family member may run away. Some parents psychologically or emotionally abuse their child by being verbally abusive, making excessive demands, rejecting the child or behaving inconsistently. Such behaviour can lead a child to run away in order to preserve their mental health. Other parents neglect their child by failing to provide for his/her basic needs and proper levels of care.

Other young people have been asked to leave home or 'thrown out' by parents or guardians. This form of rejection usually eventuates after prolonged conflict or when parents have given up trying to help or control their teenager's behaviour. Some parents never really wanted their child and asking their teenager to leave home is seen as a solution from the parent's view. Some parents 'throw out' their teenager offspring and subsequently abandon them by moving residence.

Some young people are placed in custody or care of government or voluntary institutions as a result, usually, of a children's court case. They may be sent to a remand centre, institution, hostel or residential program to live permanently or for a period of time. If these young people run away from such institutions they are classed as missing persons.

If you are the parent of a runaway child you may be aware of some of the reasons underpinning his/her departure. Further insights might be gained from honest discussions once he/she returns home.

Runaways - signs of preparation

Far more children run away from home than are abducted and parents should be aware of signs of preparation prior to a child's departure. If signs are observed and acted upon many runaway cases could be prevented.

The US National Network of Runaway and Youth Services suggests a number of behavioural cues that might signal an intention to run away. These include:

  • growing isolation - greater reticence than normal in a child
  • excessive arguing - increased irritation erupting into rows
  • abrupt mood swings - increased frequency and/or intensity of mood swings
  • increased home discipline infractions - a greater number of rule infractions pertaining to the home and family life
  • increased school violations - truancy, slipping grades, indiscipline
  • increased sleeping - can be indicative of underlying problems and/or depression sufficient to result in running away reduced communication with family members generally
  • parental arguments - personal, financial and marital problems resulting in parental conflict. Some children may alleviate their anxiety in the face of such circumstances by removing themselves from the scene.
  • threats to run away - take them seriously and try to remove the causes of the child's dissatisfaction. Talk through the dissatisfaction but do not counter with threats of punishment as, if they do eventually run away, such threats might deter a return.
  • family crisis - such as distressing death of parent or sibling
  • sudden change in friends
  • unexplained money or possessions and/or the making of mysterious phone calls - could indicate an intention to run away and/or involvement in dishonest or immoral practices.

Clearly some of these behavioural cues are no more than part of the 'normal' developmental process and some of these cues may become more noticeable in the early teen years.

Most children may manifest some of these signs at various time in their lives. But, just as the early signs of an illness should be acted upon, so should early signs of a child's dissatisfaction with his/her environment.

Commonsense has to be exercised by parents in interpreting such cues but, if convinced they are significant, assistance should be sought. Sources of assistance include school counsellors, family clergyman, family doctor and local government health/psychiatric services.

Runaways - prevention

Adolescent children in particular undergo stresses in coping with their social environments, especially their families.

Gerald Arenberg et al (1984) in Preventing Missing Children offer parents advice to improve communication with their offspring:

  • pay attention - really listen to what your children say
  • give them respect - support your child's struggle to grow and accept the maturity he/she has already achieved
  • try to understand - consider things from your child's point of view
  • avoid labels - identify the real problem in your household without resorting to meaningless labels
  • don't hassle - show interest without probing; too many questions can cut off information
  • don't use emotional blackmail - children resent being manipulated into conforming with the wishes of parents
  • use team work - work together in identifying problems and their solutions
  • don't always give answers - encourage your child to arrive at her own answer to some problems
  • your children are responsible - offer your children options rather than orders but help them understand the consequences of their actions
  • praise the positives - describe to your child his/her positive as well as negative behaviour and how such behaviour effects those around them; ensure you reinforce positive behaviour rather than negative behaviour
  • talk about feelings - share your feelings with your child and vice versa; love in the home is perhaps the best method of preventing children running away.

II Help for children and families

When a child goes missing

Parents and guardians can be faced with the possibility of a missing child at any time. If, for example, a child is not home from school at his/her normal time and he/she is normally punctual in such matters, there may be cause for alarm. Parents faced with such circumstances are best able to determine whether there is cause for alarm.


If there is reasonable cause for concern, the first action should be a telephone search. Such a search involves telephoning the school in question and friends of the child. If it is known that a child is a frequenter of milk bars, video arcades or other such premises on their way home, those locations might be checked.

In the event of a telephone search being unsuccessful, the physical search of a child's route to and from school might then prove useful. In such an event, someone should be home by the telephone in case the child calls in. Some sources concerned with child welfare recommend that these two steps should not take longer than 30 minutes.

If a telephone and physical search proves fruitless, parents should report the missing child to the police.

Reporting to police

Ideally, parents/guardians will maintain reasonably comprehensive information kits concerning their children. In any case, once the decision is made to call in police support, a parent should be able to provide police with:

  • a physical description and recent colour photograph of the missing child
  • a description of the garments the child was last seen wearing
  • names, addresses and telephone numbers of friends and places the child might visit.


Very often, following the disappearance of a child and the reporting of that disappearance to police, parents have no clear idea if the child is lost, abducted or has run away. If a parent is unsure whether their child has run away or been abducted they should consider the following:

  • check out places where your child might congregate, eg. youth refuges, train/bus stations, pubs, cafes, parks, etc. search the areas surrounding your home as well as usual play areas; it is surprising how smaller children in particular can hide away in small spaces and sleep so deeply they do not hear people shouting their name. One recent case (November 1987) involved a six year old who climbed into a butcher's van without the driver's knowledge and was subsequently locked in for 24 hours while teams of police and neighbours searched for him nearby.
  • check if your child has taken anything with him/her including clothing, money, vehicle etc.
  • double check with friends and acquaintances
  • check for possible religious cult involvement
  • check if he/she has joined armed forces (subject to their being of necessary age)
  • follow up on any special suspicions or thoughts you might have
  • if you have other children, keep them informed and talk to them; they may possess relevant information.

Convincing authorities

Police agencies are subjected daily to persons claiming their child is either a crime victim, lost or a runaway. Such claims are often resolved within a short time by the re-appearance of the child in question. The reception of missing person inquiries and initial search action is expensive in terms of police resources and it is not unusual for under-resourced police officers to be sceptical of claims concerning missing children. Such scepticism is occasionally misplaced and valuable lead time may be lost.

Focusing on the importance of prompt police reaction to juvenile missing person reports, the very first recommendation of the US Attorney General's Advisory Board on Missing Children (1986) states: 'Reports of missing children should be investigated promptly and pursued vigorously. Law enforcement agencies should review their policies regarding the investigation of missing child reports.'

Most emphatically of all, the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has clearly stated there is to be NO waiting period of any kind between the time a child is reported missing and the moment an investigation begins.

Despite the frequency with which parents are mistaken about their children being missing, they are nevertheless the best judges available and police officers - subject to proper consideration should accept parents' claims. Parents and others convinced their child, friend or whoever is missing should persist in their claim even if police disbelief should be encountered. In short, it seems the only way police can be sure not to place a missing child at risk is to assume that all first-time reports involve a high risk of foul play.

Media publicity

If sure that an abduction has occurred, parents might consider the need for media publicity. All state and territory police forces have procedures designed to facilitate media publicity for missing persons. Police will normally advise at what stage they consider publicity desirable and will require a written release from parents before taking action. However, there is nothing to stop parents acting independently in such matters should they be dissatisfied with police efforts. In some instances, parents have received excellent support by non-metropolitan media outlets contrary to police advice.

Consideration might be given to offering a reward and the production of posters and fliers. Police agencies are experienced in such matters and will advise parents. Parents should be prepared to become active in the investigation should they feel official efforts are unsatisfactory.

To avoid nuisance visitors, always ensure in any publicity that your home address is not publicised. Regrettably, there are disturbed people in all communities and one might be subjected to calls and mail which might not only mislead investigators but can also be extremely upsetting.

A decision needs to be made as to the benefits of publicity in your case. If the missing person is alive some such publicity may reach him/her and trigger a response. Police will normally check morgues and hospitals in the course of their inquiries and thus save you the trouble. It is wise to check with the officer assigned to your case as to what measures have been undertaken by police to:

  • save overlap
  • ensure that nothing is left undone.

At the same time be careful not to antagonise the officer. Encourage officers to keep you promptly informed of all aspects of an inquiry.

Practical considerations

It is essential parents of missing children keep their jobs. Searches can involve considerable cost and foregoing a source of income will not help meet those costs.

Desperation can force people to consider options they would never entertain in more stable times, but however desperate you become do not resort to the psychics and mystics who invariably approach parents in this situation. Such people will charge you large amounts of money but do not help you.

Be careful of private investigators who may approach you with a view to investigating your child's disappearance. There are many excellent private investigators but no ethical operative would approach you in such a matter. In any event, seek impartial advice, perhaps from the police officer(s) handling your case, before considering employing a private investigator. Their services can be very expensive.

It is wise to keep a detailed diary, showing who has done what and who has been contacted. Such a diary is best left by the telephone and any incoming information can then be entered immediately. The value of keeping a diary or log of events (or even a scrapbook) is not merely one of record; it helps refresh the memories of inquirers and, should there be a change of personnel or a review of inquiries, a diary can be of value in making clear possibly untapped avenues and establishing who was or was not present at particular times.

It may be useful to have a tape recorder placed on the telephone so that you do not miss any information that may be difficult to comprehend at the first hearing.

An answering machine will ensure you do not miss important messages when you are unavoidably away from the phone.

Crank telephone calls

Some parents of missing children have experienced crank telephone callers being generally abusive and upsetting - usually following media publicity. Telecom offers this advice:

  • people who make obscene, harassing or threatening calls receive their gratification from the shock and discomfort they cause. If you hang up fast, you take away their source of gratification - you refuse to play their game.
  • if the caller persists, report your complaint to your local Telecom office or phone 1100.
  • arrangements can be made for calls to be intercepted by a Telecom Officer and the caller questioned as to the purpose of their call.

The decision to have a new telephone number assigned to defeat the cranks may make it difficult for the absent child to contact home. Keeping the old number will make possible communication with the missing child easier but leaves one exposed to the risk of crank calls.

When a child returns

If a missing child returns home, parents should welcome the child with compassion and love. The child needs to feel part of the family he/she has been separated from. A display of anger will cause the child distress and may lead to another disappearance.

Bribes, threats and punishments

Once a runaway child has returned, especially after his/her first unauthorised departure, parents sometimes resort to unwise strategies rather than address root causes of family problems.

One such approach is to bribe a child to stay by 'giving way', buying expensive presents, and so on.

Alternatively, parents might threaten their returned child with some dire outcome, such as having them placed in a 'home' should he/she run away again. The lesson learned by a threatened juvenile from this is how to threaten rather than gaining insights necessary to achieve family harmony.

Lastly, some parents punish a returning child. Sanctions may make a parent feel better in the short term but do no good for the child. Punishment might even make a child run away again.

Addressing discontent

The common factor in children running away from home is discontent with a family situation, school or relationships. Whether real or only perceived, such discontent makes disappearing the most acceptable option. Therefore, on a child's return home this discontent must be addressed. If the family is unable to do so on its own, assistance should be sought from social workers.

In cases where child abuse at home may have led to a child running away it would be inappropriate to return a child to that same situation. In abuse cases police liaise with health and welfare departments, parents and the child to negotiate the best arrangement for the child's welfare and future.

When a child does not return

The disappearance of a child can have marked psychological impacts on parents and families. Added to the initial shock and distress can be feelings of guilt, anger, hurt and despair. Often new problems present themselves daily. This section examines how to cope in typical situations that confront parents of missing children. It also presents common reactions from parents after their child's disappearance.

Initial reactions

The first thing to bear in mind is that not all missing persons who do not return home are dead. Certainly, some missing persons are no doubt dead but one cannot automatically assume death in individual cases.

One should not give up hope concerning the fate of a missing child, especially in the short to mid-term. Grief and depression are inevitable reactions to such a loss, not greatly different from reaction to a known death - although the element of 'not knowing for sure' can impose an even greater burden. At such times families need to pull together, support police tracing activities to the best extent possible and, even, if considered appropriate, undertake their own search actions. In such cases it is wise to liaise closely with the police officers assigned to your case.

Emotional support

Parents should try not to go to pieces because they are the ones most capable of helping police in their inquiries or investigation. There is no doubt that the disappearance of a child creates stressful situations and if the stress escalates it can have disastrous effects on a family; advice and practical help should be sought before it is too late.

Emotional support provided by those who have already experienced similar trauma is offered by Parents of Missing Children (POMC), telephone (03) 762 1592 on a 24-hour basis. The support service is free and available to all. POMC is of particular value in that experienced persons can provide advice directly relevant to missing person situations.

In terms of coping with emotional trauma per se, Lifeline and its associated bodies provide a useful resource. All types of emotional problems are promptly referred to qualified specialists.

Youthline is valuable to young people experiencing problems at home, or those having run away from home can obtain impartial advice and referral to services from trained counsellors.

Lifeline, Youthline and other services from which parents and children may seek advice or support are listed in the Directory of Helping Services.

Common reactions

It is common for parents of runaway children to reflect on their experience. Sometimes they blame themselves, sometimes they blame others. Christine Vincent has identified a number of common reactions of parents and briefly discusses them in Teenage Runaways: What Can a Parent Do?

Parents blame themselves. A particularly common reaction is for a parent to accept all blame for a runaway child's decision to leave home. Realistically, both parent(s) and children have contributed to the child's decision. It is important that a parent think through previous events and attempt as objectively as possible to identify contributing factors. It is often necessary to have the assistance of a trained counsellor. Realistic analysis is an important step to the subsequent 'mending of fences' between parents and children. Over-protective attitudes created by the strong desire to do the best by one's children are often hard for a parent to identify without help.

Some parents conclude they are failures as parents because their child has run away. The reality is that in the 1980s running away from home is far from uncommon behaviour and is not necessarily indicative of parental incompetence. In cases where parents lack confidence in themselves, confidence building is a necessary procedure. This can be done with the assistance of a counsellor, by reading, by attending appropriate courses and/or improving one's capacity for self analysis generally.

Where parental contribution to running away is clearly identified - such as sexual abuse, too strict discipline or arguing counselling and changes will be necessary to prevent a second runaway.

The opposite reaction to parents placing all blame upon their own shoulders is that of blaming everyone else, especially their child's peers. Blaming a child's friend for the disappearance is a common but illogical reaction which fails to address the real problem. Once again, it is important for parents to assess the causes of running away behaviour and to analyse them objectively.

Parents blame each other. The blaming of one parent by another is not an unusual reaction to a child running away. It may be objectively determined that one parent has, in fact, contributed more than the other to a child's behaviour but, even so, there is little point in assigning 'blame' in such a situation. The important thing is to accurately identify reasons, particularly as perceived by the child, so that a situation can be remedied should the missing child return. The hostile blaming of one parent by another within the very stressful circumstances of a runaway, can easily contribute to family breakdown.

Parental relief and guilt. The departure of a child from a stressful family life can result in a sense of relief on the part of the parent(s). A day or two without conflict can be extremely welcome. After that, a parent can start feeling guilty at their sense of relief. Such a reaction is normal and should not be seen as evidence of poor parenting.


Not infrequently the level of grief involved in missing children cases is similar to that experienced as a result of death. Situations in which parents are left not knowing whether their child is alive or dead are especially traumatic. Counselling should be sought as the strain damages marriages as well as individual functioning. Some parents find the anxiety of not knowing whether their child is alive or dead quite debilitating and prefer to assume their child is dead. Such a decision may be preferable to eternal optimism. No fixed advice can be offered as grieving parents, relatives and friends need to make their own decisions in such matters, based on their own needs.

Often when there is no proof a missing child is alive or dead, there can be no finality, no resolution in the grieving process. Many parents of missing children are familiar with this 'unresolved grief' with mood swings between grief and hope: one moment mourning the loss of their child, the next hoping desperately their child will be found alive, safe and well. Unresolved grief affects family members' relationships with each other and often tensions are high. It should be emphasised that individuals react very differently in situations involving enormous emotional stress and most reactions are means of coping with the situation.

Stages in the grief process usually begin with denial and move to feelings of anger, helplessness, guilt, depression and finally to resolution or relief. In her book On Death and Dying, Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross stresses that there is no real order to these feelings and that individuals experience grief in very different ways. Parents of missing children can relate to this. Some parents begin by denying something terrible had happened to their child, but as the hours and days pass they moved towards acceptance of the situation. Often anger emerges and may be directed at the child, family, friends, journalists, police and even God. Inevitably, at some stage, parents are angry with themselves.

This self-anger often gives way to guilt. Commonly, 'if only' is the means of expressing guilt; 'If only I had been there ... if only I wasn't angry that time ... if only I had bought her that present ... ' Although guilt is a stage through which many people pass in the grieving process, some are unable to move beyond it. This can be detrimental to the individual's health, to family, friendships and job. It is normal to feel some guilt but if this increases and continues for a long period it can be extremely damaging to the individual.

Other common feelings parents describe in grieving for a missing child are: loneliness, even when surrounded by people; becoming numb, blocking out feelings and becoming numb; fear of what may happen and fear of being unable to carry on; and helplessness, wanting to do something to find the child but somehow being immobilised.

In an article written for Compassionate Friends, an Organisation for bereaved parents, Lea Beaven describes vividly the fear many parents experience at the loss of their child:

We live in constant fear. Fear that we will not be able to cope with this trauma. We fear waking up in the morning because we must again face the unbearable truth. We fear contact with friends or workmates who cannot understand our grief or our need to talk. We fear going through the motions of everyday life, shopping, cooking, travelling by bus. How will we make it through the day? ... We fear the long days, the empty space at our table, the need to 'Carry On' ... But most of all we fear going to sleep, for when we finally do, we will only have to wake again to face another fearful day.

In time, such fear usually leads to some acceptance of the new situation families find themselves in. It takes time to adjust and for many families, although they reach some peaceful acceptance, doubt still remains as to whether the child is gone for ever. Some families complete their acceptance by holding a memorial service or other significant ceremony. Others, find that they would be unable to cope with such an act and may prefer to hold a small commemorative family dinner and discussion. Still others may cling to hope as their only means of coping and prefer to do nothing.

Some parents describe reaching a level of emotional acceptance or adjustment after their child disappeared only to be stirred up again by reported sightings, rumours, media reports, family and friends reactions and the attitudes of people who attach stigma to families of missing children (especially where that child is viewed as a runaway). Parents of missing children often re-live their child's disappearance with every media report or every sighting. One mother recalled the pain of even going shopping because she would see girls who looked like her daughter who had disappeared four years previously and this would evoke in her many emotional memories and much distress.

Other parents recall being unable to come to terms with their grief when presented with the skeletal remains of their missing son or daughter. Somehow bones do not do justice to memories or allow parents to grieve for children who have disappeared without a trace, without the opportunity to say good-bye.

Coming to terms with grief can be a real problem for the family and friends of a missing person. Social workers and counsellors skilled in grief counselling can offer help. It is important to understand that grief is a process that everyone experiences at one time or another. Feelings of anger, guilt and pain should be expressed and discussed. By identifying expressed feelings the loss can be actualised and hopefully some resolution or acceptance can be achieved. Everyone experiences grief differently and ultimately each person must deal with their feelings on their own terms in their own time. For the loved ones of missing persons the mourning is made more painful by the uncertainty of the situation.

III A directory of helping services

Note: This directory was correct at the time of publication (in 1988) and is now very out-of-date. The chapter is reproduced for historical interest and completeness.

Parts I and II of this booklet provide parents, teachers, counsellors and others concerned with child welfare with information, advice and suggestions aimed at reducing the number of missing children.

This final part, A Directory of Helping Services, provides suggested reading and a comprehensive directory of services for each state and territory.

Parents can do much to learn about the best ways to care for their children and prevent harm from coming to them. Counselling, advice and referral services can provide help to families, parents and children experiencing problems, which may prevent or at least reduce the likelihood of children going missing.

Suggested reading

  • Arenburg, Gerald S., Bartimole, Carmelia R. and Bartimole, John E. (1984), Preventing Missing Children: A Parental Guide to Child Security, Compact Books, Hollywood, FL.
  • Barrow, Lyn (1976), You're too Young! You're Too Old: Some Solutions to the Problems of Teenagers - and Their Parents (2nd ed.), Family Life Movement of Australia, Sydney.
  • Brenton, Myron (1980), How to Survive Your Child's Rebellious Teens: New Solutions for Troubled Parents, Bantam Books, New York.
  • Collins, John K. and Harper, Juliet F. (1983), The Adolescent Boy: An Australian Analysis, Methuen, Sydney.
  • Davitz, Lois Leiderman and Davitz, Joel Robert (1982), How to Live (Almost) Happily with a Teenager, Winston Press, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Eimers, Robert and Aitchison, Robert (1978), Effective Parents, Responsible Children: A Guide to Confident Parenting, McGraw-Hill, New York; London.
  • Einstein, Elizabeth and Albert, Linda (1986), Strengthening your Stepfamily, American Guidance Service, Circle Pines, MN.
  • Einstein, Elizabeth (1985), The Stepfamily: Living, Loving, and Learning, Shambhala, Boston, MS; Random House, New York.
  • Ginott, Haim G. (1973), Between Parent and Teenager (revised ed.), Cassell, London.
  • Gordon, Thomas (1975), PET, Parent Effectiveness Training: The Tested New Way to Raise Responsible Children, New American Library, New York.
  • Gordon, Thomas (1970), Parent Effectiveness Training: The 'Nolose' Program for Raising Responsible Children, P. H. Wyden, New York.
  • Gould, Shirley (1977), Teenagers: The Continuing Challenge, Hawthorn Books, New York.
  • Homan, William E. (1977), Child Sense: A Guide to Loving, Level Headed Parenthood (new and expanded ed.), Basic Books, New York.
  • Isaacs, Susan and Keller, Marti (1979), The Inner Parent: Raising Ourselves, Raising Our Children, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York; London.
  • Jones, Brian (1988), Searching for Tony, Spectrum, Melbourne.
  • Kraizer, Sherryll Kerns (1986), The Safe Child Book, Futura, London.
  • Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth (1970), On Death and Dying, Tavistock, Sydney.
  • Mykyta, Anne-Marie (1981), It's a Long Way to Truro, McPhee Gribble, Melbourne.
  • Redpath, Peter A. (1984), Help Me My Child is Missing! A Missing Child Handbook and Child Saver Guide for Parents and Children, Child Savers, New York.
  • Rogers, Colin D. (1986), Tracing Missing Persons: An Introduction to Agencies Methods and Sources in England and Wales, Manchester University Press, Manchester.
  • Rowlands, Peter (1980), Saturday Parent, Allen and Unwin, London.
  • Turbak, Gary (1982), 'Missing: 100,000 Children a Year', Readers Digest, vol. 121, July, pp. 60-64.
  • US Attorney-General's Advisory Board on Missing Children (1986), America's Missing and Exploited Children: Their Safety and Their Future, US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
  • Vincent, Christine (1984), Teenage Runaways: What Can a Parent Do?, YMCA Outreach, Frankston, Melbourne.
  • Williams, R. (1969), Missing! A Study of the World-Wide Missing Persons Enigma and Salvation Army Response, Hodder and Stoughton, London.
  • Wilson, P. R. (1985), Murder of the Innocents: Child Killers and Their Victims, Rigby, Adelaide.
  • Wilson, P. R., Josie Arnold (1986), Street Kids: Austratia's Alienated Young, Collins Dove, Blackburn.

The Australian publications will be more readily available in bookshops and public libraries than those published overseas.

Directory of services


This Directory gives brief descriptions of agencies, organisations and services that provide help to missing persons, their families and friends.

It is also a preventive Directory including descriptions of family and adolescent counselling centres, health centres and telephone advice and counselling services.

The Directory lists key services in alphabetical order in each State and Territory. Although reasonable care has been taken it is not claimed the Directory is exhaustive by any means.

Some of the services listed may have changed telephone numbers since this publication. If there is a problem contacting any of the Directory's services the phone number(s) can be checked with Telecom's Directory Assistance on 013 for local directory numbers and 0175 for elsewhere in Australia.

General information and advice


In all States and Territories missing persons should be reported to a local police station (preferably near where the person disappeared or near his/her home address).

At local police stations details of the missing person are taken down and prepared in a report for the Missing Persons Bureau/Unit in each State and Territory.

If the missing person is believed to be in another State, that State's police force are advised by police in the home State.

See the White Pages under State Government for your local police station, eg. Sydney Police stations are found at the front of the A-K Section White Pages of the telephone directory in the NSW Government Section under 'Police Stations'.


Missing persons are sometimes located in hospitals for a variety of reasons including: personal injury, physical/sexual assault, distress, depression or psychological trauma.

See 'Hospitals' in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory.


Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis telephone counselling, referral and advice. This Directory lists Lifeline numbers in each State and Territory.

See the White Pages under 'Lifeline' for the service in your area.

Australian Red Cross Society

The Australian Red Cross provides access to the Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC). Services undertaken include:

  • Obtaining, recording, processing and transmitting all information required for the identification of persons in need of ICRC assistance.
  • Transmitting correspondence between dispersed family members when normal means of communication are disrupted.
  • Tracing persons reported missing or whose relatives are without news of them.
  • Re-uniting families, organising transfers and repatriations.
  • Issuing travel documents to persons without identity papers (refugees, displaced persons, political exiles) wishing to travel to a country willing to receive them or be repatriated and issuing capture, sickness or other certificates to persons who, in order to obtain assistance or pensions, must supply evidence.

This Directory lists the Red Cross headquarters in each State and Territory.

Youth refuges

Youth refuges often provide accommodation to missing and runaway persons. Because of their relationship with young people the youth workers in refuges cannot always reveal the whereabouts of specific individuals but often through their network of street contacts they can get a message to person or have them phone home.

This Directory lists key youth refuges in metropolitan and country centres. More information on refuges may be obtained from major Youth Accommodation services listed in the Directory, the Council of Social Services in each State and Territory or through State departments covering Youth Health, Welfare, Community Services etc.


Most schools now employ either counsellors or social workers. They are trained to offer advice and support to students and their families on problems and concerns they may be experiencing.

Contact your school office or principal for more information.

Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS)

Telephone Interpreter Service can assist with personal and practical problems, general information and help communicating with doctors, solicitors and others.

TIS numbers are found at the front of the White Pages in the telephone directory.

Migrant resource centres

Most large metropolitan areas have migrant resource centres which assist migrants with information, advice, support and referral to other services.

Migrant Resource Centres are found in the White Pages of the telephone directory.

Council/shire/regional government offices

Many councils etc. employ social workers, psychologists or counsellors to assist children, adolescents, parents and families. Councils are also a good source of referral to other local agencies and services.

See the White Pages under 'Local Government' for your nearest office.

Operation 'Home Free'

The Greyhound Bus Company operates a 'Home Free' program in which it provides free coach travel to runaway juveniles returning home throughout Australia. Police approval is required before tickets are issued and both parents and missing juveniles wishing to utilise the scheme should consult their nearest police station.

New South Wales

  • Albury/Wodonga Youth Refuge (060) 21 7046
    Counselling, crisis accommodation for 12-18 year olds
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Australian Red Cross (02) 290 2622
    New South Wales Headquarters
    159 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000
  • Community Welfare Centre (YACS Wagga Wagga) (069) 21 7225 
    Young offender support workers help with counselling, court work and probation
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm. Monday to Friday.
  • Crisis Line (02) 439 8999
    A telephone referral and general counselling service
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Family and Community Services 
    See the White Pages A-K telephone directory under NSW Government Section 'Youth and Community Services' for your nearest office YACS is the NSW Government Department providing information, advice and referral to other departments and agencies; YACS also has specific responsibility for Wards of the State, probationers, parolees and department hostels Child Protection Line (02) 818 5555 The Child Protection Line is concerned with phone counselling in matters concerning child safety and welfare
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • I'm OK Line (008) 42 4730
    A recorded message can be left on this toll-free number to be passed on to parents, friends or guardians Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Lifeline
    Sydney (02) 264 2222
    Bathurst (063) 31 7731
    Broken Hill (080) 88 5888
    Burwood (02) 744 1016
    Camden (046) 66 75I I
    Campbelltown (046) 66 7511
    Coffs Harbour (066) 51 1822
    Gosford (043) 24 111
    Grafton (066) 42 6377
    Hawkesbury (045) 71 1622
    Hornsby (02) 477 4440
    Illawarra (042) 28 1211
    Lismore (066) 21 8488
    Lower Blue Mts (047) 51 3700 
    Manly (02) 949 6099
    Newcastle (049) 61 5353
    Nowra (044) 21 5333
    Parramatta (02) 635 9000
    Sthn Highlands (048) 68 3211
    Tamworth (067) 65 7000
    Wollongong (042) 28 1211
  • Lismore Youth Refuge (066) 21 7535
    103 Wyrallah Road, Lismore 2480
    Emotional support, referral and short term accommodation
    Operates after 4.00 pm, 7 days per week.
  • Marrickville Legal Centre (02) 559 2899
  • Macquarie Legal Centre (02) 089 1777
    Solicitors and youth workers available for legal advice and dealing with criminal and social security court appearances
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Mental Health Information Service (02) 816 5688
    Counselling and information on Mental Health issues, referrals to hostels, hospitals and homes
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • NSW Police - Community Relations (02) 339 0277
    For advice on Protective Behaviour contact the police representative, Community Relations, Police Headquarters.
  • NSW Police - Juvenile Services Bureau
    Sydney numbers all (02)
    Miranda 525 8211
    Flemington 764 0055
    Parramatta 689 7790
    Chatswood 411 0914
    Juvenile Services Bureaus investigate child assault and abuse cases including: neglect, maltreatment, physical and sexual assault. Trained police officers are also available to offer advice and referral to other government agencies
    In areas outside Sydney contact your local police station and ask them for your nearest Juvenile Services Bureau.
  • Newcastle Youth Service (049) 69 2466
    150 Beaumont Street, Hamilton 2303
    Counselling, support, referral and advice; help with long term accommodation
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • No. 31 Presbyterian Youth Crisis Centre (02) 358 6057 
    31 Roslyn Street, Kings Cross 2011
    Accommodation and counselling for youth in crisis
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Salvation Army Missing Person (02) 264 1711
    25 Cooper Street, Surry Hills 2010 Provides help in locating missing adults only (18 years and over) through its independent bureau
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
  • Salvos Care Line (02) 331 6000 or 331 2000
    This telephone counselling and referral service regularly deals with young people and their problems
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days a week.
  • Sydney City Mission Youth Crisis Centre (02) 332 2000
    'The Opposition', 191 Dartinghurst Road, Kings Cross 2011
    Counselling and short term accommodation service The Drop-in Centre at the rear of the crisis centre provides meals and counselling for young people
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Sydney Rape Crisis Centre (02) 819 6565(reverse charges)
    PO Box 188, Drummoyne 2047 Provides support, counselling, advice as well as medical, legal and accommodation referral for rape and sexual assault cases
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • The Compassionate Friends (TCF) (02) 267 6962
    Fayworth House, 3rd Floor, 381 Pitt Street, Sydney
    An international Organisation of bereaved parents offering friendship and understanding to other bereaved parents TCF has a counselling network throughout Sydney and NSW
    Operates 10.30 am 3.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • 2UE Kids Care Line (02) 929 7799
    A telephone counselling service which offers counselling on family issues and concerns from trained psychologists and social workers. Advice and referral is also available.
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Wagga Wagga Youth Refuge (069) 21 4436
    Counselling, referral and short term crisis accommodation Operates 4.00 pm-10.00 am, 7 days per week.
  • Wayside Chapel Crisis Centre (02) 358 6577 or (008) 22 1901 
    29 Hughes Street, Potts Point 2001
    The Wayside Chapel has its own missing persons centre
    Telephone counselling and referral, drug and alcohol advice and family reconciliations are some of the services offered by the centre
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Welfare Rights Centre (02) 267 5077 
    4th Floor, 245 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
    Assists with social security claims and advice
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Wollongong Youth Refuge (042) 28 1946
    467 Crown Street, Wollongong 2500
    Emotional support, advocacy, referral and accommodation for young people
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Youth Accommodation Association (YAA) N,5W (02) 68.9 2874 or (008) 42 4830
    PO Box 810A, Harris Park 2150 The YAA provides accommodation for people in need on its Emergency Youth Accommodation Line
    YAA membership includes most refuges and services offering medium term accommodation in New South Wales
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Youthline
    5ydney (02) 264 1177, Parramatta (02) 633 3666
    Youthline offers advice, counselling and referral specifically for young people
    Operates 12.00 noon-12.00 midnight, 7 days per week.


  • Australian Red Cross (03) 616 9911
    Victoria Headquarters
    171 City Road, South Melbourne 3205
  • Bayside Youth Hostel (Frankston) (03) 781 2984
    Provides emergency accommodation for 15-17 year olds and referral to drug, alcohol and employment counsellers. Medical and legal aid referrals are also available
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Buoyancy Foundation (03) 429 3322
    46 Rowena Road, Richmond 3121
    A drop in centre providing crisis telephone counselling on drug related problems Assessment counselling and legal advice available for drug dependents and their families Drop-in centre operates 10.00 am-6-00 pm, Monday to Friday
    Telephone counselling operates 24hours, 7 days per week.
  • Children's Court Advisory Service (03) 654 6033
    108 Batman Avenue, Melbourne
    Offers free confidential advice on matters related to child and family problems, children's court procedures and community services in Victoria Staffed by social workers
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Community Health Centres
    Provides counselling on personal and family problems, health programs, information on local services community education
    See the White Pages A-K telephone directory under Victorian Government Section 'Community Health Centres' for your local centre
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Community Services Victoria (CSV) 
    This State Government Department employs child protection social workers who investigate complaints of neglected or abused children and teenagers
    The CSV has specific responsibility for Wards of State, probationers, parolees and department hostels Phone information, advice and referral are available
    See White Pages A-K telephone directory under Victorian Government Section 'Community Services Victoria - Protective Services' for your local office
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Direct Line (Drug and alcohol) (03)614 1999 or (008) 13 6385
    Telephone counselling service offering support, information and referral on alcohol and drug related problems
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Ecumenical Migration Centre (03) 428 4948
    133 Church Street, Richmond 3121 Provides information, counselling and referral
    Experienced in assisting Greek, Turkish and Vietnamese families
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Federation of Community Legal Centres (03) 419 2752
    272 George Street, Fitzroy 3065
    The Federation is the umbrella body for 28 general and specialist legal centres throughout Victoria Covering areas such as Aborigines, tenants, women, medical, family and occupational laws
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Lifeline (see also Multi-lingual Lifeline)
    Melbourne (03) 662 1000
    Albury-Wodonga (060) 21 1311 
    Ballarat (053) 31 2255
    Geelong (052) 22 2233
    Horsham (008) 15 3011
    Morwell (051) 34 4311
    Warrnambool (005) 62 3254 
    Provides information, counselling and referral to those in crisis. Psychologists are available for face-to-face counselling
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Message Home (03) 650 9129
    A message can be left at this number to be passed on to family or guardians
    The service operates to any part of Australia It is free, confidential and no questions are asked
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Multi-lingual Lifeline (see also Lifeline)
    Arabic (03) 662 2141
    Greek (03) 022 2448
    Italian (03) 622 2595
    Turkish (03) 662 2929
    Vietnamese (03) 662 2727
    Operates 5.00 pm-12 midnight, Monday to Friday.
  • Parents Anonymous (03) 654 4654
    Individual and family counselling for parents and teenagers experiencing problems; experienced in dealing with parental stress
    Face-to-face counselling operates 10.00 am 4.00 pm, Monday to Friday Crisis phone counselling operates 7.00 am-12 midnight, 7 days per week.
  • Parents of Missing Children Inc (03) 762 1592
    A crisis telephone service to assist and support parents of children who are missing or who have run away
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Personal Emergency Service (03) 347 6466
    Provides general counselling and referral
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Royal Children's Hospital Adolescent Unit (03) 345 5893 or 345 5890
    Flemington Road, Parkville 3052
    Provides counselling for young people 13 to 18 years old, with any kind of problem. No doctor's referral is needed. An appointment must be made.
    Operates 9.00 am 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Salvation Army (O3) 698 7222
    69 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000
    The Salvation Army operates a Missing Persons Bureau which carries out private investigations (adults only)
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • St Kilda Youth Refuge (03) 534 4612 or 534 5706
    31 Grey Street, St Kilda 3182
    Counselling, referral, advice and accommodation for 15-24 year olds
    Crisis centre operates: 10.00 am-12 midnight, Sunday to Thursday 10.00 am-2.00 am, Friday and Saturday Accommodation centre operates 24hours, 7 days a week.
  • Stopover Emergency Youth Accommodation Service (03) 347 0822
    PO Box 384, Carlton South 3053
    Providing emergency accommodation, information and referral for 13 to 18 year olds
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • The Compassionate Friends (TCF) (03) 232 8222
    TCF is an Organisation offering comfort, compassion and strength to bereaved parents. They have a network of contacts throughout Victoria.
  • Victims of Crime Assistance League (VOCAL) Inc (03) 690 1877 
    71 Eastern Road, South Melbourne 3205
    A voluntary Organisation formed to assist victims of crime Offers information on services, compensation for victims of crime and practical advice and information
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Victoria Police - Community Policing Squads (03) 320 3635 
    A squad of police men and women trained to handle children's and family problems; also to investigate complaints of neglected, maltreated or abused children and teenagers Informal advice and referral to other social service agencies available In Metropolitan Melbourne see White Pages A-K telephone directory under Victorian Government Section 'Police' for your local telephone number In country areas contact the local police station and ask for the nearest Community Policing Squad.
  • Victorian Association of Citizens Aduice Bureaus (03) 419.9866 
    10th Floor, 176 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne 3002
    Provides information, referral and some legal advice Citizens Advice Bureaus operate a network of bureaus throughout Victoria See the White Pages of telephone directory for your nearest bureau Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Welfare Rights Unit (03) 416 1111
    1st Floor, 193 Smith Street, Fitzroy 3065
    Assists with social security and other welfare claims and advice
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Wellington Youth Counselling Centre (03) 529 8020 
    4th Floor, 594 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004
    Provides individual, group and family counselling for teenagers and adults; appointments necessary
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday (evenings by appointment).
  • Western Port Youth Refuge (03) 791 5692
    Provides emergency accommodation, advice counselling and referral for 15-20 year olds
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Women's Refuge Referral Service (03) 329 8433
    Offers advice and emergency accommodation referral for females escaping domestic violence, incest and other abuse situations
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.


  • Anglican Cairns Youth Service (070) 53 6410
    PO Box 2179, Cairns 4870
    Provides support, counselling, accommodation, referral and assistance with independent living for homeless youth Major part of this service is to reconcile young people with their families where appropriate
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Australian Red Cross (07) 31 2551 
    Queensland Headquarters
    409 Adelaide Street, Brisbane 4000
  • Bayside Adolescent Boarding Inc (07) 393 4176 or 393 4170
    105 Edith Street, Wynnum 4178
    Provides accommodation, support and referral for young people
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
  • Bracken Ridge Family and Youth Support Group (07) 269 0691 
    Norris Road, Bald Hills 4036
    Provides a message home service, counselling and referral for youth, parents and families
    Operates 9.00 am-4.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Brisbane Citizens Advice Bureau (07) 221 4343 
    69 Anne Street, Brisbane 4000
    Provides information, advice and referral on a range of services including medical, legal and financial
    Operates 10.00 am-4.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Brisbane City Mission (07) 252 3571
    702 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley 4006
    Provides counselling, drug and alcohol advice, crisis accommodation and referral Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Brisbane Youth Service (07) 852 1335
    111 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley 4006
    Provides youth counselling, information, reconciliations, referrals for accommodation and legal advice A message home service is also available
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Bundaberg Area Youth Service (071) 71 6017
    70 Woongarra Street, Bundaberg 4670
    Provides short term emergency accommodation Youth workers provide counselling, guidance, encouragement advice and referral for 14-24 year olds
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Crisis Counselling (07) 224 6855 
    Emergency counselling for people in crisis
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Department of Family Services (07) 227 7111
    The Department is responsible for children, juveniles and families Provides advice, information and referral to other departments, services and organisations
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Gold Coast Youth Service (075) 91 1933 or 91 3309 
    102 Queen Street, Southport 4215
    A major referral and advice centre providing: counselling, independent living skills program, personal development courses, street programs, referral for accommodation
    Operates 10.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
    A telephone answering service is in operation after hours.
  • Hebron House (07) 38 9776
    15 Frasers Road, Ashgrove 4060 Accommodation and counselling available
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Lifeline
    Brisbane (07) 25 2111
    Aitkenvale (077) 79 0022
    Bundaberg (071) 72 6788
    Cairns (070) 51 4300
    Gold Coast (075) 39 9999
    Ipswich (07) 281 95555
    Lower Burdekin ext (077) 83 3000
    Mackay (079) 51 2333
    Maroochydore (071) 43 5099
    Maryborough (071) 21 2626
    Rockhampton (079) 27 3399
    Rockhampton area excl. Mackay (008) 015 220 
    Toowoomba (076) 32 9900
    Warwick/Dalby area (008) 01 6017
  • Maroochydore Area Youth Service (071) 43 4543
    PO Box 271, Maroochydore 4558
    A crisis centre offering counselling, material assistance referral and emergency accommodation for youth
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week
  • Message Home Brisbane (07) 839 5334 Cairns (079) 57 3800 
    A message can be left at this number to be passed on to family or guardians
    The Service operates to any part of Australia
    It is free, confidential and no questions are asked
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Sexual Abuse Treatment Program (07) 227 5915
    Provides individual counselling for families and group counselling for children, mothers and perpetrators Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
  • The Compassionate Friends (TCF) (07) 359 1897, (07) 848 7086, (07) 376 6463
    An international Organisation of bereaved parents, offering friendship and understanding to other bereaved parents TCF has a network of contacts throughout Queensland.
  • Woodridge Family Services (07) 208 8100 or 208 8255
    Provides individual and family counselling including family reconciliations
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Youth Advocacy (07) 857 1155
    217 Lutwyche Road, Windsor, 4030 Provides legal advice, accommodation and advocacy for young people 16 years and under Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
    Legal advice operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Youth Emergency Services (07) 357 7655
    25 Thorne Street, Windsor 4030
    Provides emergency accommodation, assessment, counselling reconciliations and referrals
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.

Western Australia

  • Anglicare (09) 321 7033, 321 4217 or 321 6564
    42 Collins Street, West Perth 6005
    Perth's major non-government health and welfare service Offers youth counselling, emergency accommodation, advice on family problems and referrals
    Operates 8.30 am-5.30 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Australian Red Cross (09) 321 0321
    Western Australia Headquarters
    357-363 Murray Street, Perth 6000
  • Centre Care Marriage and Family Service (09) 335 6644 
    25 Victoria Square, Perth 6000 Provides personal, marriage, adolescent and family counselling advice and referral Staff comprises: psychologists, social workers and welfare workers
    Operates 9.00 am-5. 00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau of Western Australia (09) 344 2200
    City Arcade Officer Tower, 207 Murray Street, Perth 6000
    Offers advice and referral on a host of concerns/problems
    Provides a full time legal service
    Operates 9.00 am-4.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Concerned Christians Growth Ministries (09) 344 2200
    176 Albert Street, Osborne Park 6017
    Provides counselling, advice and information to persons who are concerned about religious cults and sects
    Researches and monitors religious groups and provides public education through the media and a research library
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
    Emergency after hours telephone number (09) 349 9438.
  • Crisis Care Unit (09) 321 4144 or (008) 19 9008
    PO Box 8146, Stirling Street, Perth 6000
    A major Perth-based service run through the Department for Community Services
    Provides 24-hour crisis intervention on a range of problems including child protection and domestic violence Crisis care is a mobile service offering intervention and counselling for families and individuals experiencing stress Toll free number offers support counselling and referral for areas outside Perth
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Fremantle Youth Service (09) 325 3210 or 325 4184 
    7 Quarry Street, Fremantle 6160
    A collective of youth services including employment, health, Counselling and a drop-in centre
    Operates 8.30 am 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Jesus People Inc (JPI) (09) 325 4677
    277 Hay Street, East Perth (PO Box 6282) 6000
    Provides a range of youth and community services in Western Australia including: counselling, drug and alcohol advice, accommodation, employment training and women's services.
  • Message Home (09) 321 2330
    A recorded message can be left at this number to be passed on to friends, guardians or family The service is free and confidential Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Princess Margaret Hospital for Children - Child Sexual Abuse Service (09) 382 8222
    Roberts Road, Subiaco 6008 Provides a service to the children and families of Western Australia in the total area of child protection The hospital funds a child sexual abuse unit which is staffed by specialists in the medical and social work areas
    After-hours calls are managed by a social worker who is on-call and an appropriately trained medical officer
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Samaritans
    Perth (09) 391 5555
    Albany (098) 41 4777
    Bunbury (097) 21 1000
    Geraidton (099) 21 4411
    Kalgoorlie (090) 21 4111
    Port Headland (091) 721 1999
    Provides 24-hour crisis telephone counselling, referral and advice throughout Western Australia
  • Samaritan Youthline (09) 381 2500
    Telephone counselling for despairing and suicidal youth
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Support Group for Parents of Teenagers (09) 322 6669
    C/- YWCA, Suite 2, 17 Ord Street, West Perth 6005
    Provides preventative counselling with teenagers experiencing problems at home Support, referral and advice are other aspects of the service A migrant worker is available
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pro, Monday to Friday.
  • The Compassionate Friend (TCF) (09) 370 3037
    An international Organisation of bereaved parents offering friendship and understanding to other bereaved parents
    TCF has a counselling network in Perth and throughout Western Australia
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Western Australia Police (09) 222 1111
    Missing Persons Unit, Police Headquarters, 2 Adelaide Terrace, Perth 6000
  • Western Institute of Self Help (WISH) (09) 383 3188
    Provides information and advice on the hundreds of self-help groups in Western Australia Covers groups dealing with a variety of concerns including: Aborigines, abuse, addiction, children and parents, migrants, grief, health, communities, women and youth
    Operates 9.00 am 5.00 pro, Monday to Friday.
  • YMCA 'Street Syde' (09) 325 2744
    119 Murray Street, Central Perth 6000
    Provides emergency and short term accommodation for 15 to 25 year olds Referral and counselling service available
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Youth Health Service (09) 322 1489
    118 Hay Street, West Perth 6005
    Offers education, information, counselling, medical treatment and practical advice on all health issues/problems The service employs a social worker, doctor and nurses and has a strong emphasis on preventative medicine
    Operates 8.30 am-5.00 pro, Monday to Friday.
  • Youth Legal Service (09) 481 0560
    Ist Floor, 42 Collins Street, West Perth 6005
    Provides legal advice and referral for young people
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.

South Australia

  • Adelaide Housing and Outreach Centre (ADHOC) (08) 231 6111
    104A Currie Street, Adelaide 5000 Assists young people with advocacy, referral and counselling in the accommodation area
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pro, Monday to Friday.
  • Australia Red Cross (08) 267 4277
    South Australia Headquarters, 211 Childers Street, North Adelaide 5006
  • Child and Adolescent Family Health Service (08) 223 2477 (Adolescent Resource Unit)
    295 South Terrace, Adelaide 5000
    Preventative health service and family counselling for adolescents/ family conflict
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau (08) 212 4070
    A major advice and referral service with a network of centres throughout South Australia Legal advice is available between 1.00 pm-2.00 pm, Monday to Friday Provides welfare rights, advice and assistance
  • Crisis Care (Department of Community Welfare) (08) 272 1222
    A crisis counselling and referral telephone service
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Joyce Schultz Women's Shelter (08) 224 0198
    248 South Terrace, Adelaide 5000
    This Red Cross run service provides accommodation, counselling and referral for young women
    Operates 4.00 pm-10.00 am, 7 days per week.
  • Lifeline
    Adelaide (08) 212 3444
    Mount Gambier (087) 25 9111
    Port Augusta (086) 42 2132
    Port Lincoln (086) 82 5657
    Port Pirie (086) 32 3300
    Whyalla (086) 45 5400
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital -Sexual Referral Centre (08) 45 0222 
    Woodville Road, Woodville 5011
    Emergency medical and counselling for rape and sexual assault victims
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week
  • Saint John's Refuge (08) 223 7558 
    29 Moore Street, Adelaide 5000
    Providing emergency accommodation, counselling and referral for 12-21 year olds
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Salvation Army Youth Accommodation Service (08) 262 4242 
    Burlendi (08) 281 0163,
    22 Spains Road, Salisbury
    Provides emergency accommodation, counselling and referral for 14-17 year olds.
    Wandendi (08) 262 4242,
    797 Main North Road, Parooka
    Provides emergency accommodation, counselling and referral for 18-25 year olds.
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Service to Youth Council (SYC) (08) 211 8466
    88 Currie Street, Adelaide 5000
    SYC provides accommodation, advice counselling and referral for young people
    Street youth workers have daily contact in areas where runaways and homeless youth congregate
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pro, Monday to Friday.
  • The Compassionate Friends (TCF) (08) 43 9205
    An international Organisation of bereaved parents Offers friendship and understanding to other parents Contacts throughout South Australia.
  • The Second Storey (08) 232 0233 
    112 Rundle Mall (entrance off Charles Street), Adelaide 5000
    Adolescent counselling and support service dealing with young people in crisis
    Telephone counselling operates:
    9.00 am-8.00 pro, Monday to Thursday
    9.00 am-9.00 pro, Friday
    Youth workers available for counselling: 12 noon-8.00 pro, Monday to Wednesday
    2.00 pm-8.00 pro, Thursday
    4.00 pm-9.00 pm, Friday
  • Trace-A-Place
    88 Currie Street, Adelaide 5000
    Provides needs assessment and referral for crisis accommodation
    Operates 10.00 am-4.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • West Care (08) 231 2850
    212 Wright Street, Adelaide 5000
    Provides counselling, referral and emergency youth accommodation for 15-21 year olds
    Operates 8.00 am-4.00 pm, 7 days per week.
  • Victims of Crime Service Inc (VOCS) (08) 223 6038
    Offers support, counselling, referral, legal advice and companions for court attendance
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
    A telephone answering machine is in operation after hours.


  • Australian Red Cross (002) 34 3477
    Tasmania Headquarters
    53 Collins Street, Hobart 7000
  • Child Protection Board (002) 30 2921
    Knapwood House, 38 Montpelian Retreat, Battery Point, Hobart 7000
    Provides risk assessment, counselling, referral and crisis intervention in cases of child maltreatment and sexual abuse Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau (002) 44 0600
    Eastern Shopping Complex (Eastlands), Bligh Street, Rosny Park 7018
    Offers information and referral on a range of services both government and private including: legal and welfare advice, where to seek counselling and accommodation, financial assistance, support and advice
    Operates 10.00 am-4.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Department of Community Welfare (002) 30 8011
    12 Murray Street, Hobart 7000
    The Department of Community Welfare provides referral and advice on other agencies and government departments Local offices employ social workers and psychologists for child, adolescent and family counselling
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
    Child welfare officers are available 24 hours on telephone, (002) 30 3736.
  • Hobart Community Legal Service (002) 34 5988
    29 Strahan Street, North Hobart 7000
    Provides free legal advice and referral Service is involved in law reform and community education Free legal advice sessions are held Monday and Thursday evenings between 6.00 and 7.30 pm
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Karinya Young Women's Shelter Launceston (003) 44 9520
    Emergency Accommodation, advice and information for young women 16-25 year old
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Lifeline
    Hobart (002) 28 0224
    Burnie (004) 31 7766
    Life Link Launceston (003) 31 3355
  • North West Youth Shelter (004) 24 7375
    176 William Street, Davenport 7310
    Offers accommodation, support, advice and referral for young homeless people
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Northern Youth Shelter Association (033) 31 6622
    PO Box 1210, Launceston 7250
    Provides crisis accommodation, counselling and advice for 14-21 year old males
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Sexual Assault Support Service (002) 31 1811
    PO Box 217, North Hobart 7002
    Provides support, counselling, legal and medical referral in cases of sexual assault
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • The Compassionate Friends (TCF) (002) 55 2145
    An international Organisation of bereaved parents, offering friendship and understanding to other bereaved parents.
  • Youth Care (002) 34 6316
    199 Campbell Street, Hobart 7000
    Provides referral, counselling and accommodation for young people in the Hobart area
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Youth Link Inc (004) 73 1744
    A crisis accommodation referral service for 12-25 year olds on the west coast
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Northern Territory

  • Aboriginal Legal Aid
    Darwin (089) 81 5266
    Alice Springs (089) 52 2933
    Katherine (089) 72 1133
    1 Gardiner Street, Darwin
    Assists with legal representation and advice Services include: assistance in obtaining lawful release while awaiting trial, collection of data for defence, public education in legal rights issues, assistance in enforcement of justice for all
    Operation 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
    A message can be left on the telephone answering service after hours.
  • Casey House Youth Refuge (089) 85 3538
    C/- YWCA, PO Box 2586, Darwin 5794
    Provides emergency accommodation for 14-18 year olds, referral, individual and family counselling
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Crisis Line Darwin (089) 81 2040 
    Crisis telephone counselling, advice and referral
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Department of Health and Community Services
    PO Box 40596, Casuarina NT 5792
    Darwin (089) 20 3211
    Alice Springs (089) 50 2501
    Katherine (089) 72 2555
    Tennant Creek (089) 62 2442
    The Department has responsibility for health services in the Territory, including: Child health clinics, health centres and hospitals, migrant and women's health Provides information, advice and referral for personal or family counselling
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Northern Territory Police
    Police Headquarters, Berrimah Police Centre, McMillans Road, Berrimah Darwin 5790 (089) 22 3344
    Police Station, Parsons Street, Alice Springs (089) 50 1211
  • Oakley House (089) 270251
    C/- YWCA GPO Box 2686, Darwin 5794
    A refuge offering support and accommodation to teenage mothers and pregnant girls
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday
    After hours contact Casey House (089) 85 3538.
  • Salvation Army (089) 81 8188 
    49 Mitchell Street, Darwin 5790
    Provides a missing persons (adults only) inquiry service, welfare office, referral for counselling and accommodation Other services in the Territory include:
    Katherine Booth House, Darwin (089) 81 9528 - a lone women's crisis centre
    Alcoholic Rehabilitation Centre, Darwin (089) 81 2500 - provides advice, information and rehabilitation
    Katherine Women's Crisis Centre (089) 73 1332
    Alice Springs Welfare Officer (089) 52 9815
    Alice Springs Hostel (089) 52 2777
  • Sexual Assault Referral Centre Royal Darwin Hospital (089) 208407 (bh) or (089) 20 7211 (ah)
    Provides counselling and support for victims, their families and friends Follow-up medical services Information and referral to legal, medical and financial services
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.

Australian Capital Territory

  • ACT Health Authority (062) 45 4111
    ACTHA Building, Cnr Moore and Alinga Streets, Canberra City
    ACTHA coordinates and runs health services in the ACT including public hospitals, AIDS referral service, child and family guidance clinics, child health clinics, community health centres, health service hostels, mental health services, migrant health services and women's health services ACTHA employs psychologists and social workers to deal with individual health and family problems
    Operates 9.00 am-5. 00 pm, Monday to Friday
    See front of the White Pages of ACT telephone directory, Commonwealth Government Section 'ACT Health Authority' for services.
  • Ainslie Village (062) 48 6931
    Quick Street, Ainslie 2601
    Offers long term low cost accommodation and self help to persons 18 years and over Welfare workers and counselling also available
    Operates 9.00 am- 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm-5.00 pm Monday to Friday Person(s) on duty at village 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Australian Federal Police
    City Police Station (062) 49 7444
    Woden Police Station (062) 45 7377 or 45 7378
    Belconnen Police Station (062) 514444
    Tuggeranong Police Station (062) 31 4444
  • Australian Red Cross (062) 47 8675
    ACT Headquarters
    Hobart Place, Canberra City 2601
  • Belconnen Youth Centre (062) 51 4007
    Chandler Street, Belconnen 2617
    An advice, activities and referral service for young people
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Canberra Youth Refuge (062) 47 0330
    82 Vonython Street, Downer 2602
    Provides crisis intervention counselling and referral
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau (062) 48 7988
    Griffin Centre, Bunda Street, Canberra 2601
    Offers information and advice on a range of services
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Civic Youth Centre
    14 Cooyong Street, Canberra City 2601
    Offers a range of services, all telephone numbers (062):
    Shortcuts 57 1515 - information, referral and advocacy service; assisting youth with problems including health and finance
    The Foundry 47 2707 - a drop-in centre for youth providing employment programs for the young unemployed under the Commonwealth Youth Support Scheme (CYSS)
    Youth Accommodation Group (YAG) 47 2428 - the umbrella body concerned with youth housing in the ACT
    Youth Health Worker 47 4121 provides information and access to health services
    Youth Worker 47 0770 - provides advice and advocacy for youth
    All above services usually operate 9.00am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • LASA Youth Centre (Lions and Salvation Army) (062) 88 6248
    36 Damala Street, Waramanga 2611
    Provides time out accommodation, crisis accommodation and referral for medium to long term accommodation
    Operates 24-hours, 7 days per week.
  • Lifeline (062) 57 1111
    24-hour crisis counselling service, 7 days per week.
  • Tuggeranong Community Service (062) 31 4404
    Apple-tree House, Erindale College Centre, Sternberg Crescent, Wanniassa 2903
    A family and youth counselling service
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Welfare Rights and Legal Service (062) 47 2626
    Room 7, Griffin Centre, Bunda Street, Canberra 2601
    Free community legal centre specialising in public and private housing, advice on pensions and benefits, legal counselling and referral For emergency legal advice after hours a message can be left on the telephone answering machine
    Operates 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Woden Community Service (062) 82 2644
    Corinna Street, Phillip 2606
    Family and youth counselling, referral and advice
    Operates 9.00 am 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Youthline (062) 57 2333
    Advice, counselling and referral specifically for young people Operates 4.00 pm-12 midnight, 7 days per week.

International directory


This is a brief listing of major missing persons organisations/ agencies in Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States. Some of these organizations have offices or contracts in other countries. For further information regarding organisations/ agencies in a particular country contact your nearest High Commission, Embassy or Consulate.

For those people with the IDD dialling facility connected to their telephone the following information is supplied. Where phone numbers are listed the first set of bracketed digits is the country code for ISD dialling, the second set of bracketed digits is the area code. For dialling IDD within Australia it is necessary to dial 0011 before the country code.


  • International Social Services
    Provides support, negotiation and practical action in cases of non-custodial (parental) abduction overseas
    National Headquarters (03) 428 4538
    280 Church Street
    Richmond Vic 3121
    Branch Office (02) 235 0395
    5th Floor
    121 Pitt Street
    Sydney NSW 2000

Great Britain

  • Missing Persons Bureau (44) (1) 230 1212
    New Scotland Yard
    London SWIH OBG
  • >National Organisation for the Reunion of Child and Parent
    49 Russell Hill Road Purley
    Surrey CR2 2XB
  • Salvation Army Social Services Investigations Department (44) (1) 985 1181
    110-112 Middlesex Street
    London E1 7HZ


  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (1) (613) 993 7425 
    Task Force on Missing Children
    1200 Alta Vista Drive
    Ottawa Ontario KIA OR2

New Zealand

  • New Zealand Red Cross Society (64) (4) 72 3750 
    National Headquarters
    14 Hill Street
    Wellington North
    The National Headquarters will be able to provide Red Cross contact addresses/phone numbers for other areas of New Zealand.
  • NZ Red Cross Wellington Branch (64) (4) 89 9104
    7 Donald MacLean Street
    Wellington South
  • New Zealand Police Headquarters (64) (4) 74 9499
    180 Molesworth Street

United States of America

  • Child Find (1) (914) 255 1848
    (1-800) 431 5005 (reserved for use by children)
    7 Innes Avenue (PO Box 277)
    New Paltz, New York 12501
  • Child Seekers (1) (802) 865 2250
    PO Box 636, Colchester, Vermont 05446
    (1) (802) 773 5988
    PO Box 6065, Rutland, Vermont 05701-6065
  • Commission on Missing and Exploited Children (1) (901) 528 8441 
    Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County
    616 Adams Avenue, Room 104
    Memphis, Tennessee 38105
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement (1) (904) 488 5224 (1 -800) 342 0821 (within state)
    Missing Children Information Clearinghouse
    PO Box 1489
    Tallahassee, Florida 32302
  • Hide and Seek Foundation (1) (503) 585 7909
    PO Box 17226
    Salem, Oregon 97305
  • Illinois Department of State Police (1) (217) 782 6429 or 782 5227 (1-800) 834 5763 (within state)
    200 Armory Building
    Springfield, Illinois 62706
  • Missing Children Help Center (1) (813) 623 5437 (kids)
    410 Ware Boulevart, Suite 400
    Tampa, Florida 33619
  • National center for missing and exploited Children (1) (202) 634 9821 
    (1-800) 8435678 (Nationwide)
    1835 K Street NW, Suite 600
    Washington DC 20006
  • New Jersey Commission on Missing Persons (1) (609) 588 3742
    Quakerbridge Plaze Drive,
    Building 12A
    CNI 19
    Trenton, NJ 08625
  • Search reports Inc (1) (201) 288 4445 
    Central Registry of the Missing 396 Route 17 North
    Hasbrouck Mounts, New Jersey
  • The Kevin Collins Foundation for missing children (1) (415) 863 6333
    (800) 435 7538 (within state)
    (800) 272 0012 (Nationwide)
    PO Box 590473
    San Francisco, California 94159
  • Vanished children's alliance (1) () 408 378 (lost)
    300 Orchard City Drive, Suite 151
    Campbell, California 95008