Traceless postcards offer gift of hope this Christmas

A message on a traceless postcard could help to reconnect families living with the grief and uncertainty of a missing loved one this Christmas, Australian Federal Police say.

The Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC), Australia Post, and the Salvation Army are working together to provide non-traceable, postage-paid postcards, to those in the community disconnected from their families. 

AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz, National Manager Crime Operations, said people go missing for a variety of reasons and it is not a crime to do so. Regardless, the uncertainty is often devastating for family and friends, especially during the Christmas period.

“The initiative aims to reconnect missing persons and the people left behind – those left wondering what happened to their loved one,” Assistant Commissioner Platz said.

“People, whether missing or estranged from their loved ones, can write a message on the postcard – available at Salvation Army centres – which will be delivered via a central Australia Post facility anonymously, with no identifiers of the sender’s location. This method ensures that those people who choose to be ‘missing’ can send a message home without their whereabouts becoming known.”

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Families of missing persons often describe important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries as triggers that bring on both happy and sad memories, reminders of good times and the existing loss. This is especially the case during the Christmas and New Year period – a time normally reserved for family reunions and get-togethers.

“Receiving a message from a missing loved one could be the greatest Christmas gift for families waiting for answers,” Assistant Commissioner Platz said.

 “The festive season is a joyful time but it can also sharpen the pain caused by those absent during the holiday period. We hope this campaign provides the catalyst for those choosing to be distant from their families to let them know they are OK.”

A corner stone of the campaign is the partnership with the Salvation Army, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for distributing and collecting the postcards.

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Lieutenant Brad McIver, Community Service Operations Manager for the Salvation Army, said they were very happy to be partnering with the AFP to help people reconnect with family.

“We see the availability of these postcards as a wonderful way for people to let loved ones know that they are okay, and to perhaps consider a more long-term reconnection with their families,” he said.

Australia Post’s support of the NMPCC has been instrumental in getting this initiative off the ground with printing, collection and postage of postcards.

For more information about what the Salvation Army is doing at Christmas across the country, go to www.salvos.org.au.