International Missing Children’s Day 2022: looking through eyes of family with missing child

This International Missing Children’s Day (IMCD), the AFP looks to raise awareness of the impact and long-term suffering of families who are waiting for answers about their missing child.

IMCD 2022 is centred around ‘missing moments’, and to mark the day, the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) has released an emotive video with family members of missing NSW teenager, Gordana Kotevski.

Gordana went missing 28 years ago – aged just 16 years and has sadly been missed by her family and loved ones since that day.

Together, the NMPCC and the Kotevski family hope to educate the community on the impacts of living with a missing child and the ambiguous loss families endure.

Commander Andrea Quinn, National Operations Coordination, Specialist Protective Command, highlights that IMCD is a day where people around the world commemorate the missing children who found their way home, remember those who have been victims of crime, and continue efforts to find those who are still missing.

“Featuring Gordana’s case provides the opportunity to reflect, remember and commemorate Gordana’s life, and gives the Kotevski family an opportunity to share their experience and to keep her memory alive,” said Commander Quinn.

“Sadly, they’re not alone in their experience, in 2021, over 34,000 missing persons’ reports in Australia related to children under 18.

“98 per cent of people who are reported missing are found safe and well, but for those who are not, what follows can be a lifetime of heartbreak and confusion for their families, like the Kotevski’s have suffered.”

The NSW Government, together with the NSW Police force, has today announced a one million dollar reward for information into Gordana’s disappearance.

Gordana is described as a bubbly teenager who loved her family and was adored by her friends was last seen in the Newcastle suburb of Charlestown, NSW.

Last year the AFP Commissioner planted a tree at the Arboretum in Canberra dedicated to Gordana and the estimated 250 missing children in Australia that the AFP and partners continue to hold hope in locating.

Gordana’s aunt, Julie Talevski is encouraging the public to take the time to read and hear about Gordana’s story as part of IMCD.

“Gordana was a delightful child and her disappearance has left a huge hole in our hearts,” said Julie.

“Ambiguous loss is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. It is a loss that never brings closure and leaves you grieving the child that didn’t make it into adulthood.

“To us, the commemorative tree at the Arboretum represents hope, the hope that Gordana will come home one day.”

This IMCD, and every day, the NMPCC is asking that people support the many families with a missing loved one by:

  • Visiting the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre Facebook, Instagram and website, to view and share the short video and the many faces of Australia’s missing children.
  • Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 if you have any information relating to a missing child.

Tips for parents and caregivers:

  • Make sure your child knows their full name, home address and telephone number and include key contact information in their backpack, coat etc. Teach your child not to share this information with anyone they don’t know without your permission.
  • Talk to your children about the risks of sharing too much information on social media.
  • Keep updated pictures of your child.
  • Look for signs and listen if your child says someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Be prepared in crowds by dressing your child in recognisable clothing and designate a central location to meet if they get lost.

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