The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has released a short film on International Missing Children’s Day to raise awareness of missing children in Australia and around the world.
Today (25 May 2019) is a day for remembering children from Australia and across the world who are still missing, paying tribute to those who were victims of crime, acknowledging children who found their way home, and supporting the families, friends and communities of missing children in their ongoing search.
The AFP National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) has developed a digital campaign to spread awareness of this important day and the issues associated with it.
The campaign includes a digital poster series designed to highlight the prevalence of missing children on a global scale, and the focus piece is a creative video depicting a little girl who represents over one million missing children around the world, and the life experiences that could have been.
AFP Manager Child Protection, Commander Justine Gough, said the short film provides some insight of the effect that a missing child can have upon those who are left behind.
“We hope this film shows the impact that a missing child can have on their family members, friends and loved ones,” said Commander Gough.
“When a child goes missing, there is not only the initial pain and loss associated with the horrific event, there is also the ongoing impact family members feel.
“That child’s potential, everything they could have done, or big milestones they would have achieved are painful reminders of the loss that may have occurred many years earlier.”
The loss of a missing child is one felt intensely by Wodonga couple Jim and Cathy McDougall.
In 2007, their daughter Chantelle and granddaughter, Leela, were reported missing. The 12 years that have followed have presented no definitive answer to the question, what happened to them?
“I guess it doesn’t get any easier, the hard part for me is that it seems to get harder rather than easier,” said Jim McDougall, when reflecting on the life he and his wife lead in hope to one day be reunited with both Chantelle and Leela.
This International Missing Children’s Day, the NMPCC is also re-releasing an age-progressed image of Leela McDougall in the hope that someone out there today may be able to recognise her.
“It would be lovely to be able to see her, to talk to her; it’s absolutely a good likeness of her I think,” said Cathy McDougall.
Approximately 25,000 young people are reported missing in Australia every year. Most children who are reported missing are found safe and well within 24 hours. For those who are not, what follows can be months and years of heartbreak and confusion.
Around the world, it is estimated that over one million young people are reported missing every year.
This year’s digital campaign has been shared with the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children’s (ICMEC) Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN) in order to promote the message worldwide. The GMCN is an important coalition of 29 countries across five continents that work together to unite the global community to find missing children.
“There are model countries when it comes to finding missing kids and Australia, through the AFP’s NMPCC, is leading the way,” said Paul Shapiro, Chief Executive Officer of ICMEC.
“Together with all of our member countries – we are creating a movement that leverages the best technology and strategy to face this issue.
“We are proud to celebrate International Missing Children’s Day 2019 to highlight the prevalence of missing children worldwide and the progress we are making together.”