New resource to help young people when a loved one is missing
"This is the first time in Australia that a resource has been created by and for young people who have had someone close to them go missing," Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said the booklet gives an insight into what young people are going through and how their friends and carers can support them.
"In the Loop reflects the thoughts and experiences of young people, how they cope with their loss and how they want to be treated during this difficult time," he said.
"A recurring theme when the booklet was being developed was that young people don’t want their families to ‘protect them’ by withholding information or leaving them out of discussions about the disappearance."
"In the Loop includes colourful artwork which powerfully demonstrates how the reassuring comments of adults are received by young people dealing with the confusion and uncertainty surrounding a disappearance."
The Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit (FFMPU) has been convening support group meetings around the state with young people over the past 15 months.
"The young people involved in the meetings have contributed most of the content and illustrations in the book, with the support of their carers, the FFMPU and two social work students from the University of NSW," Mr Smith said.
The launch of In the Loop: Young People Talk about Missing is among a series of events being held during National Missing Persons Week.
In Australia, an estimated 35,000 people are reported missing each year, although the majority of these people are located within a short period of time. For each person that goes missing, an average of 12 people will be affected.
The Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit has helped almost 400 families and has fielded approximately 170 enquiries per month since it began operating in 2000.
The unit, which is funded by the Department of Attorney General and Justice, is the only service in Australia that operates with the sole purpose of providing free counselling and other practical and emotional assistance to families and friends of missing people.