July 31 to August 7 marks Australia’s annual National Missing Persons Week.

The week was established after 20-year-old Anthony ‘Tony’ Jones from Western Australia disappeared in Queensland in 1982. His last known whereabouts were the outskirts of Townsville, Queensland.

The Jones family, distraught and searching for answers, established National Missing Persons Week (NMPW). The inaugural week was formally recognised in 1988 with the Mayor of Townsville planting a tree in commemoration of Mr Jones.

National Missing Persons Week aims to raise awareness of the significant issues surrounding missing persons, profile long-term missing persons, and educate the Australian community.

Last year, Australian police received more than 53,000 missing person reports, equating to almost 145 a day, an increase of more than 30 per cent in the last three years. This year, data shows that one Victorian is reported missing to police every hour, sombre statistics spotlighting the issue’s ubiquitousness.

The Australian Federal Police National Missing Persons Coordination Centre works to support National Missing Persons Week by coordinating annual police campaigns with state and territory police, highlighting different themes each year to raise awareness and profile long-term missing persons to reduce the incidence and impact of missing persons in Australia.

National Missing Persons Week poster.

This year’s National Missing Persons Week campaign, launched by the AFP on July 31, is an innovative digital campaign called ‘Without Them’, sought to challenge Australians to identify with the missing, feel the weight of each missed year and consider their own emotional reaction to having a loved one go missing.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Specialist Protective Command Jason Kennedy said National Missing Persons Week was an annual week of action and awareness, highlighting the significant issues surrounding missing persons.

“Young, old, family members and loved ones all from a range of cultures have one thing in common – the daily fears, hopes and endless questions they leave behind,” he said.

“NMPW is supported throughout the missing persons sector and within the broader community to bring much-needed awareness and hopefully answers for those left behind.”

The number of Victorians reported missing has increased exponentially over the past ten years, from 7669 in 2011 to more than 18,000 in 2021.

Almost half of Victorians reported missing are found within 48 hours, and for those that are missing in excess of 48 hours, the majority will eventually make contact, return home or be found.

Others remain missing for months, years, decades.

There are 40 men and 26 women who were last seen in Victoria and classed as a long-term missing person case.

Long-term missing persons are categorised as persons missing for more than three months.

Of the 60-plus people on Victoria’s long-term missing persons list, time missing spans from less than a year to 50 years, with some cases offering rewards of up to $1,000,000.

The 2022 National Missing Persons Week digital campaign, displaying the 2500 long-term missing persons in Australia whose disappearance is felt deeply by loved ones across the country, can be found here.

“I encourage all Australians to take a look at the profiles of our long-term missing, share the posts and keep the families of those missing in your thoughts,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Kennedy said.

Australians sharing their stories and support throughout NMPW 2022 are encouraged to use the hashtags #WithoutThem and #NMPW2022.

The Australian Federal Police’s state and territory counterparts nominated eight long-term missing persons from the current long-term missing persons to be featured in this year’s campaign.

1Allan Bently

BORN 1958, the now would-be 63-year-old male was last seen in Tea Gardens, New South Wales, on Monday, April 26, 2021.

A friend visited Allan’s house on April 29 2021; however, Allan and his vehicle, a Holden Combo van, registration UQG146, were gone.

Neither Allan nor his vehicle has been seen again, and there are concerns for his safety and welfare.

 

2Darlene Geertsema

BORN 1947, the now would-be 74-year-old female was last seen leaving her family home at Best Street, Devonport, Tasmania, on Monday, October 23, 1978.

Darlene’s disappearance has been the subject of a number of investigations and reviews. However, she has not been seen or heard from since October 23 1978; she remains a missing person.

There is a $500,000 reward for anyone with credible information that can help Police find Darlene and uncover the truth about what happened to her the night she disappeared.

3Elizabeth Herfort

BORN 1961, the now would-be 61-year-old female was last seen at the Australian National University Bar, Acton, ACT, on Friday, June 13, 1980.

Between 9pm and 9:45pm on June 13 1980, a person fitting Elizabeth’s description was seen hitch-hiking on the southbound carriageway leading to Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra.

It is believed that this same person was given a lift in a motor vehicle along Commonwealth Avenue to the intersection of Coronation Drive in Canberra, ACT.

Elizabeth failed to return home that night and has not been heard from or seen since.

4Josephine Jennings

BORN 1964, the now would-be 58-year-old female was last seen in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, around April 1997.

She has not been in contact with family or friends since then. Police are very concerned for her welfare.

Josephine has an ‘I love you’ tattoo on the inside of her left ankle, a large scar from her left ear to her mouth, and a large burn mark on her right calf.

5Li Bing Di

Born 1978, the now would-be 44-year-old male was last seen leaving his father’s house in Dandenong South on or around February 4, 2001.

Li’s father was the last to see him.

It is unknown why Li left the house that day; Li didn’t have a car, had very little money, and did not take any of his personal belongings with him.

6Nathan Brosnan

BORN 1985, the now would-be 36-year-old male was last seen in Logan, Queensland, on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

Police and family hold concerns for Nathan’s safety as it is out of character for him not to regularly contact family and friends.

Nathan is described as having a medium build, Caucasian with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Investigators are appealing for Nathan or anyone with further information to contact police.

7Paul Baker

BORN 1960, the now would-be 61-year-old male was last seen in Katherine, Northern Territory, on August 6 2021.

Paul is an experienced camper, who would often travel to remote parts of Central Australia, but did not take any camping equipment, nor did he have any trips planned before his disappearance.

Family, friends and police all hold concerns for his welfare.

8Susan Goodwin

BORN 1962, the now would-be 59-year-old female was last seen in Port Lincoln, South Australia, on Friday, July 19, 2002.

Susan was last seen around lunchtime after shopping at both Coles and Woolworths in Pt Lincoln.

Around 4:45pm her vehicle was located in the driveway of her home address.

Extensive searches of the area surrounding Port Lincoln have not been successful in locating Susan.