This Christmas, missing persons around Australia are being given the opportunity to send a letter home. Non-traceable postcards are being made available at Salvation Army centres around the country as part of an initiative by the Australian Federal Police’s National Missing Persons Coordination Centre. The aim, according to AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz, is to “reconnect missing persons and the people left behind—those left wondering what happened to their loved one.”
“This method ensures that those people who choose to be ‘missing’ can send a message home without their whereabouts becoming known,” says Assistant Commissioner Platz. “People, whether missing or estranged from their loved ones, can write a message on the postcard… which will be delivered via a central Australia Post facility anonymously, with no identifiers of the sender’s location.”
The postcards are untraceable and postage-paid, providing wilfully missing persons a unique avenue to speak to their families again—potentially providing answers for their disappearance and letting them know they’re okay—without fear of revealing their location or blowing their cover. The AFP notes that families often describe important dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and New Years as triggers that bring on memories of the people who have disappeared. This initiative aims to fill those gaps, if only slightly.
“Receiving a message from a missing loved one could be the greatest Christmas gift for families waiting for answers,” says Assistant Commissioner Platz. “We hope this campaign provides the catalyst for those choosing to be distant from their families to let them know they are okay.”
Staff and volunteers from the Salvation Army are responsible for printing, posting, collecting, and distributing the postcards, and are instrumental in making sure that the messages reach their final destination. Lieutenant Brad McIver, Community Service Operations Manager for the Salvation Army, said they were very happy to be partnering with the AFP if it meant people could re-establish contact with their estranged loved ones.
“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.