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Missing Persons Week: putting families and friends In Touch.

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MEDIA RELEASE Senator Amanda Vanstone Minister for Family & Community Services Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women 87.03 6 August 2003 Missing Persons Week: Putting Families and Friends In Touch According to the National Missing Persons Unit, someone is reported missing to police every 18 minutes. Not knowing the whereabouts of a family member or friend can be an extremely harrowing experience. National Missing Persons Week (3-9 August) reminds us just how devastating it must be to be separated from a loved one. Established in 1988, Centrelink’s In Touch program has been a beacon of light in troubled times and has helped thousands of people reunite with their family and friends. The In Touch process is simple and effective yet steadfastly upholds the privacy of customers. Upon receiving a request, Centrelink writes to the person being sought, informing them of the person trying to make contact as well as their appropriate contact details should the person wish to follow up the request. The missing person’s right to privacy is always paramount and it is up to them if they want to make contact. With over six million customers receiving some form of government assistance, there is a good chance that Centrelink has information in its database that can help people reunite. The success of the program can be measured in its popularity. The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Police Missing Persons Units all regularly use this great service. Since January this year, Centrelink has assisted the Police Missing Persons Units with 911 missing persons cases. The In Touch service is available at all Centrelink offices where sympathetic staff are trained to help families in stressful circumstances. Minister’s Media Contact: Damon Hunt 0419 691 944