It seems like a given that Australia would just have a database of missing persons, but actually that only came into place in 2016, just four years ago.
Before that states kept individual records and some groups started by the loved ones of the missing had unofficial websites and Facebook pages. 38,000 Aussies are reported missing each year with the vast majority of those being located within days.
A few, however are just never located by authorities. Then the weeks become years, then decades, then the reports are just filed as unsolved. In the vast majority of those missing are actually missed, but barriers stand in the way of them being found.
Leaving your home state and going missing really out barriers up in an investigation. So does not having a pushy loved one checking in on the case from time to time.
The long term missing generally fall into one of three categories, those who do not wish to be found, those who have gone somewhere quiet and committed suicide, and those who have been murdered and their body has been hidden.
Until the national database, no one really had any idea how many people were long term missing in Australian. At the moment that number is around 3,000.
When a body is found, we lay people believe that they are quickly and easily identified, but for a few that is not the case. If you have no wallet. no tattoos and no one looking for you, then chances are you won’t end up being identified all that easily.
Then you look at the fact that the skeletal remains of over 500 people sit in labs and mortuaries across the country, not to mention the probably thousands that sit in unmarked graves, buried by the state when no one claimed them.
A lack of record keeping and database comparison, combined with lack of funding to test DNA keeps so many of those families in the dark. Surely some of those 500 remains are on that database of 3,000.
Organisations like the Doe network and one Doe at a time, in the US are seeking to identify remains with photographs or bust reconstructions of faces and familial DNA to give these Doe’s their name’s back. There are only small social media groups just starting with this work in Australia.
There is no dedicated laboratory in Australia working to identify the remains stored in 500 boxes across the country. Until someone comes forward and thinks that they may be related to a person in a specific box, there is little that can be done to identify them.
The question remains, how will we identify these individual and if we don’t, what does that say about Australia.
Sleep with one eye open,
link to 20 current long term missing people, have a look and see if you can identify any of them https://www.nowtolove.com.au/news/real-life/missing-and-forgotten-the-23-missing-persons-cases-that-were-never-solved-9208
The national missings persons datatbase: https://missingpersons.gov.au/