Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) exists to humanise missing loved ones and alleviate the impact on those left behind.
More than one hundred Australians are reported missing every day, and while most are found quickly, many remain missing long term. Research shows at least 12 people are directly impacted when someone goes missing – emotionally, psychologically, financially – almost half a million Australians every year.
MPAN was established in 2013 by Loren O’Keeffe, whose brother Dan went missing in July 2011. His disappearance prompted the biggest campaign of its kind, Dan Come Home. Over 18 months, the search for Dan gained significant traditional media attention and a captive social media following of over 70,000. Other families in similar situations began to make contact, desperate for advice and support, which led Loren to found MPAN.
When someone goes missing, time is of the essence. This is the motivation behind our foundation project – Missing Persons Guide – a world-first practical guide of what to do when someone goes missing. The Guide expedites critical processes, minimising time wastage when efficiency matters most.
Longer term, it’s important to recognise the magnitude of the impact on families and friends, which is why we’re broadening the narrative of missing persons to include the lived experiences and thus the needs of the people left behind. Ambiguous loss, the unending not-knowing they experience, is considered to be the most traumatic kind of grief and most unmanageable type of stress. We are expanding our specialist training to ensure more Australian practitioners are familiar with this unique loss.
Another focus is on the importance of establishing mutually beneficial corporate partnerships to not only help promote the faces and stories of the missing, increasing the likelihood that they may be recognised, but also lessen the financial impact on those actively searching for them.
Missing persons is a community issue that requires the collaborative efforts of media, all levels of government, the corporate sector, emergency services and the public. MPAN harnesses the people power exemplified by Dan Come Home to humanise missing loved ones and provide much-needed support to those left behind.
MPAN is governed by a board to ensure the organisation is true to its mission, to set policy and to support and promote the association. The board comprises representatives from a range of key stakeholder groups, and currently welcomes expressions of interest from professionals in communications, justice and finance. For more information about MPAN’s board members, see: Our Board
*Ambiguous Loss, the theory and the book; Dr Pauline Boss (Harvard University Press, 1999/2000)