News: Campaign to help bring missing children home

Release Date: Tuesday, May 25 2010, 04:30 PM

A global campaign help bring them home was launched today in an initiative led by the AFP and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

This year’s campaign focuses on parental child abduction and its impacts, and was launched by the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor.

"It’s a tragedy that two to three children are abducted from Australia each week and about 650 parental child abductions happen in Australia each year," Mr O’Connor said.

"As a parent, I can only imagine the torture of not knowing where your child is and if they are safe and well. I really feel for families in this situation. We can all do our part to ease their pain."

The campaign aims to educate people across the world about the issues associated with missing children and strengthen global efforts to find them.

One of the hidden impacts of parental child abduction is the emotional and sometimes physical toll on a child who is taken by someone they trust.

Under the auspices of the Global Missing Children’s Network, nine countries from four continents have joined in the campaign to raise awareness of missing children and to emphasise the issues surrounding parental child abduction.

An interactive web portal and an international community service announcement, both developed by the AFP, are key elements of the campaign, where anyone in the world with internet access can go online and release their own balloon of a missing child.

The AFP Commissioner Tony Negus, Attorney-General Robert McClelland, stakeholders and families of missing children attended the launch at the National Museum of Australia.

Attendees released balloons displaying photos missing children from countries around the world in the hope that someone, somewhere, would recognise them.

"Just because the child is with a parent, it does not necessarily mean that they are safe," Commissioner Negus said.

"We are very proud to be leading this global movement together with International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children."

"We are particularly excited to be launching a virtual balloon release micro-site so that anyone around the world with access to the internet can view the profiles of missing children online and release a balloon with us to commemorate the day."

You can help the campaign by releasing a virtual balloon at the AFP-developed website.

A 30 second community service announcement produced by the AFP has also been distributed throughout participating countries to encourage people to visit the website.

helpbringthemhome.org.au is an interactive, social networking-driven campaign designed to raise awareness of missing children and help find them. Six children from each country have been profiled as part of the campaign.