NSW Police Force has launched the 2014 Missing Persons Week campaign to raise awareness of the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons.
In 2014, the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre has partnered with Alzheimer’s Australia for the theme ‘Dementia and Missing Persons… Learn how to prevent these words appearing in the same sentence’.
Operational Communications & Information Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter Barrie, and CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, The Hon. John Watkins, officially launched the week-long campaign on Sunday 3 August at NSW Police Headquarters.
Assistant Commissioner Barrie said uncertainty about the whereabouts and safety of a loved one can be a traumatic experience.
“No one can estimate the impact on loved ones when someone goes missing – and it extends beyond the family to friends, colleagues and even the community,” Assistant Commissioner Barrie said.
“In 2013, almost 12,000 people were reported missing in NSW, and while most of them were located in a short period of time, 36 still remain missing.
“That’s the purpose of Missing Persons Week – to recognise missing people who are found, remember those who are still lost and gather information to help bring them home.
“This week, through our partnership with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, we will also highlight dementia as one of the key ‘at risk’ groups in our community of going missing.
“As one of the main symptoms of dementia is memory loss, it is easy for a person to become disorientated or forget their way home.
“While programs like ‘Safely Home’ are helping reduce the time it takes to locate a missing person suffering from dementia, we hope by raising awareness during Missing Persons Week, we can register more people and stop them from going missing,” Assistant Commissioner Barrie said.
The CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, The Hon. John Watkins, said this was an issue that was only going to become more prevalent as the number of people with dementia continues to increase.
“Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of diseases, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common, that describes the loss of memory, intellect, rational thought, social skills and physical functioning,” Mr Watkins said.
“Dementia can also impact on a person’s ability to remain orientated to their surroundings and can mean people with dementia, when, for instance, they are out for a walk, can get disorientated and not able to find their way home.
“This can be extremely distressing and traumatic for both the person with dementia and for their loved ones.
“That’s why we’re very pleased to have an ongoing partnership with the NSW Police Missing Person’s Unit with the Safely Home program, which aims to help locate people with dementia if they become lost.
“We’d like to thank the NSW Police for highlighting this distressing issue and look forward to continuing to work with them to help people with dementia to live as full, as independent and as safe a life as possible.”
In NSW, there are almost 112,000 people with dementia, which is expected to grow to 132,000 people by 2020.
Police and Emergency Services Minister, Stuart Ayres, said National Missing Persons Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of the issues associated with missing persons.
“To have a loved one go missing has an absolutely devastating impact on the person’s family and friends. Police do an outstanding job in providing support for the families affected – quite often over many years,” Mr Ayres said.
The National Missing Persons Week campaign will be officially launched in Canberra on Monday 4 August 2014.
NSW Police Force would like to thank the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) for their assistance with Missing Persons Week 2014, donating advertising sites worth more than $220,000 across NSW.