Missing person cases will be given new profiles and families of loved ones given a community to engage with each other, after Australian Federal Police launched a dedicated Facebook page for the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre.
The latest research suggests more than 38,000 people are reported missing each year, and more than 2000 people across the country are classified as “long-term missing persons”, meaning they’ve been missing for three months or longer.
Eileen and Neil Fahey – whose son Anthony went missing on 3 July 2013 after buying a bus ticket to Sydney from Canberra – believe the official Facebook page will be a valuable tool for getting the message out.
“Our story will be up on this Facebook page and people will be able to read it. They’ll be able to see his photo, they’ll be able to pass it and share it,” Mrs Fahey said.
Anthony was dropped off at the local bus interchange in Canberra by his aunt on Wednesday, 3 July 2013, and the bus manifest shows he did board for Sydney.
Since then Anthony has not sent a single email, his social media activity is non-existent, and the bank account in his name has not been touched.
“In the beginning you don’t really realise you’re going to be in this for the long-term but I love all my children and I wanted to do something straight away,” Anthony’s mother said.
After contacting family in Sydney and Brisbane for Anthony’s whereabouts, Eileen and Neil Fahey called the police to file a missing persons report.
In an effort to locate their 30-year-old son, the Salvation Army’s tracing service was used, posters were put up and a media campaign launched.
“We’ve been to Sydney and walked the streets, we’ve talked to the homeless, we’ve been to hospitals, we’ve been to rehabilitation centres, we’ve been to wherever we think we’d be able to find Anthony,” Mrs Fahey said.
Nothing has worked but the Fahey’s are hopeful that the official National Missing Persons Facebok page will prove successful.
“It’s a bit like this ripple in the ocean that we don’t know how far and wide it will go but we hope that somewhere on that journey that someone will see Anthony’s profile and his story and contact Crime Stoppers,” Mrs Fahey said.
The Justice Minister said the Facebook page is not to replace but instead compliment family forums such as Leave a Light On and the Missing Persons Advocacy Network.
“The more we can publicise individual cases then greater is the chance that they can get a better result to know about the fate of their loved one,” Minister Michael Keenan said.
The Feed (2014): Missing Persons