Research brief: missing persons


Each year the Nation's police forces receive thousands of reports of missing persons. As this research brief indicates, most of these reports relate to young people under the age of seventeen. Many of these young people have run away from unbearable conditions of abuse and maltreatment at home. They are likely to gravitate to areas of our cities where a disturbing and growing number of homeless youth remain vulnerable to violence, drug addiction, prostitution and other risks of exploitation and involvement in crime.

Most missing people, of all ages, are eventually found - a tribute in many cases to the dedicated work of police officers or other voluntary workers who devote substantial resources and time to the search for those who are lost. But each year several hundred Australians remain unaccounted for after being reported missing.

What can be done to improve the situation? A number of initiatives are suggested in this research brief while those seeking more detailed information should refer to two earlier Institute reports - Missing Children and Missing Persons - listed in the references.