Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) has partnered with cafes around the country for this year’s National Missing Persons Week (4–10 August) to raise awareness of the 38,000 Australians who go missing every year.
Cafés across the country will serve coffee in artist-designed biodegradable cups that feature eight Australians who have been missing for up to six years.
MPAN Founder and CEO Loren O’Keeffe said The Unmissables coffee cup campaign is a modern take on the well-known stark, grainy photos on milk cartons that often depict individuals as cases rather than people.
“We paired families of long-term missing ustralians with authors and artists to capture the essence of the individual, rather than just stats on a poster.
“The cups are so beautiful and striking, you don’t realise right away it’s about a long term missing Australian. It’s a beautiful image of a person with a story,” said O’Keeffe.
Sasoon Simonian, brother of Sydney-based Sevak Simonian who went missing in 2014, says campaigns like The Unmissbles are important to spread this community awareness and support.
“It’s so important to reach out, and not be afraid to reach out if someone you know is going through something.
“We need people to be talking about this, because life’s not all about the good times, it’s about the bad times as well. This could happen to anyone, so we need to support people who are going through this.”
Sasoon says that as time goes on his brother’s absence is felt even more by his family and friends.
“People think that as you accept the fact and time passes it gets easier. But because you’re holding onto that hope, it actually becomes more difficult. You go through all sorts of phases.
“My brother had such a unique character and was such a special part of our family. The space he’s left behind in our family is very obvious. I always feel that presence because it was so strong.”
Sevak went missing in October 2014 when he left his home to go bushwalking, and his car was found at Kanangra-Boyd National park the following day.
Building on the success of the charity’s ongoing The Unmissables initiative, O’Keeffe is passionate about educating the public on the impact of ambiguous loss, and how important it is for vulnerable individuals to reach out for help.