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What can I do myself before I contact Family Search Services?


(If you are uncertain if your search qualifies as a Police matter, contact your local Police station or The Family Tracing Service in your state for clarification)

There are many options available for you to search yourself before you need to contact the Family Tracing Services.  Below is a list of of search agencies and publicly accessible records that you can access and search yourself.

Just click on the service that looks like it might be of use to you and you will be shown a brief description of the service/agency and a link to their website.




Australian State Social Service Agencies.





There are a number of ideas you can try before getting an agency involved.  These include;

  • Searching the Electoral Roll
  • Checking the Internet
  • White Pages, etc.
  • Talk to those who may know the person.
  • If you are looking for an immediate family member, try speaking with other family members and the missing person’s friends or work colleagues.  In many cases, one of them may still be in some form of contact, though this is not a certainty.  It is also possible that the person you speak with may have been asked by the missing person to keep their contact details private.  Respect this, but ask that if they do have contact, will they pass on your details and let them know that you are looking for them?  This will get the word out without anyone feeling pressured.
  • Check the Electoral Roll.
  • Every state has at least one Electoral Office where you can view the Electoral Roll.  This is a public document.  In most cases, you will find a list of people with the same name as the one you are looking for.  The Electoral Roll is only good if the person you are looking for has enrolled to vote.  People under 18 will not show up on the roll.
  • The fact that you have found the correct name on the roll does not necessarily mean that you have the correct person.  There are a few million “John Smith”s in the world.  If there are a number of people with the correct name, try narrowing down the field a bit and see if you can find other information anywhere that would indicate that the name you have might be that of the correct person.
  • What about the Internet?
  • If the person you are looking for is under 30, then there is a good chance that they will have some kind of Internet presence.  Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc offer a popular resource for people under the age of about 30.  Do not limit it to this age.  People over 30 are becoming increasingly active on the Internet.
  • In some cases, you will need to become a member to search a site.  Don’t let this scare you off.  Just remember to write down your “login” details (user name and password) so that when you log in again in the future to search further, you are able to do so with the minimum stress.
  • Be aware that when you search for people on the Internet, just because they have the same name and age of your missing person, it may not be them.  Like the Electoral Roll, there may be many people with all names the same and live around the same area.
  • White Pages.
  • The White Pages are another useful tool.  However, it only offers the initials and the surname.  Again, how many “J. Smith’s" are there in the phone book?  Unless the name is very unusual or you know the area where the missing person might be, you will probably have difficulty reaching the correct person.


Australian Federal Police - NMPCC - MISSING PERSONS

The Australian Federal Police - National Missing Persons Coordination Centre is a non-operational unit.  The NMPCC provides national leadership and coordination that complements the work of the Police and non-Police search agencies.  They will refer to the appropriate agency.

For urgent searches where you are concerned for the missing person's welfare, contact your local Police Station.

The NMPCC is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Federal Police and aims to reduce the incidence and impact of missing persons in Australia.

If your missing person was travelling overseas and you are afraid for their safety, contact your local Police who may refer to Interpol.  In the case of natural disasters, watch news bulletins for emergency phone numbers.

Australian Electoral Commission

The Electoral Roll is a public document and is available for viewing in the offices of the Electoral Commissioner in each state.  These offices are located in major centres throughout Australia.

Births, Deaths & Marriages,_Deaths_&_Marriages_Registries

The Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages is your next step.  If the person you are looking for remained in NSW, then you will probably be able to gather some more current information on them at BDM, if you are entitled to the information (usually only people named on a certificate are able to access the information on the certificate).

Be aware that BDM is a state by state agency and that they do not have access to information from other states.  If the person you are looking for has moved interstate, BDM may not be able to help you.

Some states make their archived records of BDM available on their websites.  This is not guaranteed for all states and it is up to you to check out what is available in the states you are interested in.
Keep in mind that you will not be able to access records more recent than 30 years ago.  The Australian privacy laws protect the records with the intent of protecting the privacy of people still living.

Australian Newspapers (1803 to 1954)

This is a site that contains newspaper historical information as well as Birth, Death, Marriage notices.


International Social Services Australia

Helps trace family members separated by adoption or other legal intervention, international child abduction and voluntary or forced migration.

ISS works across borders with those in vulnerable situations, with a special emphasis on children.  They work to ensure entitlement and protection under international human rights frameworks, through the professional delivery of casework and advocacy services.

Genealogical Resources

Most of these resources are aimed at people wanting to find ancestors, but you may be able to contact a relative who knows your missing person.  The links above are only a few of the many genealogical websites available.

The Society of Australian Genealogists

The Society of Australian Genealogists is a very good place for any researcher, whether experienced or novice.  They have information available on Australian records and are willing to help people learn how to go about researching family history and family members.

Australian Family Tree Connections (Magazine)

Australian Family Tree Connections.
This is an Australian monthly genealogy magazine that contains information and advice as well as advertising various commercial genealogical services and listing up-coming events.

National Archives of Australia

The National Archives of Australia has valuable information for researchers.  It is worth surfing the site for gems of information and advice. Immigration records may prove very useful.


This site has not been fully explored by this author, but it appears to have record information available on a pay-as-you-search basis.  Before you pay anything, check if the same records can be accessed for free, somewhere else.

Some commercial detective agencies offer searches for family members as well as friends, etc and other search services.

Caution should be taken when dealing with private detective agencies.  While some are legitimate, reputable and productive, others can be there to take your money and not actually do much detecting. 
Shop around, ask questions and make sure that the company you are dealing with are reputable.  If you sign a contract for a search, find out if you can limit the costs that may be charged.

White Pages

Australian White Pages.  If you know where your relative is likely to be living, it may be worth checking out the phone book.  Many overseas countries have directories that can be viewed on the Internet if your missing person is overseas.  You may locate a family member who knows their latest address.

Internet Profile Sites

The 3 sites above allow you to set up profile pages.  If the person you are looking for is under the age of 30 and is likely to have access to a computer, then there is a fair chance that they have a profile page set up.  The older the person you are looking for, the less likely it will be that they will have a profile on the Internet.

If you try these sites, be aware that name searches cover the whole world.  Don’t contact someone unless you are completely certain that you have the right person.

Be very careful about your personal and private details when you sign up.  Make sure anything that could be used for identity fraud is kept securely and not public.

Smart Traveller

The Smart Traveller website gives up to date information on international events that may affect travellers.

Travellers can also register their itinerary so that in an emergency, the family and authorities can more easily locate them.

If your missing person is missing overseas, any registered information about travel plans could be accessed by Interpol.

Australian Red Cross / Red Crescent

The Red Cross Tracing Service in Australia is part of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent global tracing network, which aims to re-establish contact between separated family members and clarify the fate of the missing.


Reconnect is an initiative funded by the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services to provide a range of community based early intervention services aimed at family reconciliation and other support for young people aged 12 to 18 years who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The objective of the program is to improve the level of engagement of homeless young people or those at risk of homelessness with family, work, education, training and the community. Centrelink works very closely with Reconnect. Centrelink Social Workers can refer young people and their families to Reconnect where the service is operating in the local area.

The Salvation Army runs Reconnect programmes, as do other agencies.

 For further information

Phone 1800 813 750



FTS Post Adoption Searches

NSW & Qld offices of the Family Tracing Service are able to help with Post Adoption searches for adoptions that occurred within those particular states.  Eg, NSW can help with NSW adoptions and Qld with Qld options.

Some other states in Australia may be able to assist in some limited way.

Contact details are available on the Contact Us page.  Or click here.

Link Up

Provides reunion services to Aboriginal People separated from their families and cultures by government intervention policies such as adoption, fostering or institutionalisation.

Each state has it's own Link-Up office with 1800 & 1300 numbers available from the phone directory.

NSW Government - Family and Community Services


Before the Special Search Service can begin a search, you will need to make contact with The NSW Community Services. If you are eligible, they will provide you with a 'Supply Authority'. This document will allow you to search and access information from other agencies such as The Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriage. When you have obtained a current name that may have changed due to marriage, you can then check the electoral rolls. If you still don't have enough information, you should apply to the Adoption Information Unit with the Community Services for social and medical records if you haven't already done so. There would have been an option for you to do this when you first applied for an authority to obtain adoption information. You should also put your name down on the 'Reunion and Information Register' held with NSW Community Services. This register may be able to match you up with someone who is looking for you. If you are still unable to locate the missing person, then contact the Special Search Service.

Adoption Information Unit
PH: (02) 9716 3002 or 1300 799 023

The Special Search Service (NSW)
PH: (02) 9211 6491 or 1300 667 366

Foster Care, State Wards & Institutional Care

If you or a family member were separated from the family due to being in foster care, institutional care or were made a ward of the state in NSW, you should contact you local NSW Community Services, Customer Service Centre if you want to read your file to gain more information.  If you live outside of NSW, then you can still apply to see your ward file through the Community Services, Freedom of Information Unit.

It is not always necessary to do this before applying to Special Search Services, please call the Special Search Service staff to discuss this further if you need to.

NSW Family & Community Services
right to information (formerly Freedom of Information) Unit
PH: (02) 9716 2662


PARC - Post Adoption Resource Centre

The Post Adoption Resource Centre is a service operated by the Benevolent Society.

PARC provide counselling, information and support for people who were part of an adoption.

PARC are accredited for U.K. adoption support.

ICASN- Inter-Country Adoptee Support Network

ICASN has been set up to provide support to Adoptees who have been adopted cross-culturally.
The term Inter-Country Adoptee (ICA) generally refers to those who are raised in a country different to their country of birth. ICASN acts to facilitate the interconnections between ICAs.

Forgotten Australians

An alliance of agencies and services aimed at supporting people who experienced institutional or other out-of-home care as many of the children suffered physical, emotional and /or sexual abuse.


FFMPU - Famlies & Friends of Missing Persons Unit

FFMPU does not search for your missing friends or relatives.  They are there as a support agency for people who are missing someone.

See also, NMPCC - National Missing Persons Co-ordinating Centre below

Daniel Morcombe Foundation

Daniel Morcombe was almost 14 when he was abducted at approx 2.10pm Sunday the 7th of December 2003.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation Inc is very active in implementing ‘Harm Prevention’ initiatives.

"Indeed, this area of our work has increased to form a major proportion of our time, energies and available funding.
We are committed to teaching Personal Safety to the young and vulnerable in our community by providing these important skills, free of charge and easily accessible to everyone in Australia."

Suicide Prevention Australia

Suicide Prevention Australia is a non-profit, non-government organisation working as a public health advocate in suicide prevention. SPA is the only national umbrella body active in suicide prevention throughout Australia.

The Salvation Army’s National Help Line

Suicide prevention and bereavement support.
This is a site devoted to the support of people who have lost loved ones through suicide.
(Support) (Information)

Phone 1300 363 622

Phone (02) 8736 3240

Salvo Care Line - Telephone Counselling

The Salvo Careline is a telephone counselling service available 24 hours per day.

Phone Sydney (02) 8736 3295

Phone Sydney (02) 8736 3292

Phone Brisbane (07) 3831 9016

Salvo Youth Line - Telephone Counselling

Youth Counselling - if you are a young person who wants to talk about your problems, including personal issues, relationship problems, or dilemmas at school. Parents can also use this service if they need help for a child who is experiencing difficulties.

Call Salvo Youth Line: (02) 9360 3293 (Sydney local call)

Reach Out

Support for youth related issues including depression and suicide.


Talking Works

Talking works is a website project for young people aged 14-17 years to raise awareness about going missing - How young peole can identify those at risk and more importantly, how they can help each other.

NALAG - National Association for Loss and Grief

NALAG is an agency dedicated to supporting and educating the welfare community in the area of loss & grief.

Talk to Your Kids

This site offers various tips and ideas to improve communication between adults and children.

Kids Help Line

Kids Help Line offers information and links to child/youth related resources.
While the Kids Help Line site offers information, the helpline phone number is the primary focus.

KHL is primarily a telephone counselling service that children/youth can use to get support and counselling (1800 551 800).  Counsellors are available 24 hours per day.

There is also Internet & email based counselling available through the site.  It takes a bit of searching to find the links within the site ( and the web counsellors have set times of availability.

Someone Is Missing

An emotional resource for Families and Friends of Missing Persons.


Beyond Blue

The National Depression Initiative
Info line:  1300 22 4636

Alzheimers Australia

Alzheimer's Australia offer a national dementia helpline on 1800 100 500 with an interpreter service available.


Look For Them

This website is the joint initiative of 8 UK organisations, set up to make it easier for you to find help and advice.

International Red Cross / Red Crescent

The Red Cross / Red Crescent Tracing Service in Australia is part of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent global tracing network, which aims to re-establish contact between separated family members and clarify the fate of the missing, after they have been separated through wars and disasters.


AAA–NORCAP was established in 1982 with the express aim of supporting adults affected by adoption and particularly their wish to find out more about their families. The Contact Register started shortly afterwards - then the first and currently the largest in the UK - as a means of achieving such reunions.

National Center for Missing Adults

Kym Pasqualini - CEO

West Peoria - Arizona USA
Search and Support Agency

University of Minnesota - Dept of Family Social Science

Emeritus Professor Pauline Boss    St Paul Campus Minnesota

Studies of Ambiguous Loss

Jacob Wetterling Foundation

Nancy Sabin CEO

St Paul Minnesota
Child Safety and Family Support

Project Jason

Kelly Jowlkowski

Omaha, Nebraska USA
Web blog for those affected by missing - including pod casts

Morgan Nick Foundation

Colleen Nick - Founder

Alma Arkansas USA
Support for stranger abductions

National Center for Missing and Exploaited Children - NCMEC

Abby Potash - Family Advocacy Division

Alexandria Virginia USA
Support for families left behind
(division of NCMEC who assist with searching)

National Center for Missing and Exploaited Children - NCMEC

Duane Bowers

Virginia USA
Therapist, a traumatic loss therapist, provide support to victims of trauma and grief

University of Maryland - School of Social Work

Dr Geoffrey Greif

Maryland USA
Social worker - researcher into LT impact of parental Child Abduction

AFPAD - Missing or Murdered Support Agency

Pierre- Hugues Boisvenu - President

Montreal CANADA
Victims Rights and MP support

Missing Children Society of Canada

Rhonda Morgan

Calgary CANADA
Search and support for families of missing children

Enfant Retours - Missing Children

Pina Arcamore

Search agency and prevention awareness

Missing People (formerly the National Missing Persons Helpline UK)

Paul Tuohy - CEO

London UK
Search and Support Agency

MISS - Missing in Ireland Support Services

Dermot Browne - Founder

Dublin Ireland
Support for those left behind


BAAF - British Association for Adoption & fostering (UK)

This service deals with most, if not all aspects of adoption and fostering in the United Kingdom.  If you are considering adoption or fostering in the UK or have already done so, this site offers information that may help with your decissions and/or issues.


ASR - Adoption Search Reunion (UK)

This website is intended to be the first port of call for anyone thinking about searching for or making contact with birth and adopted relatives or researching an adoption that took place in the UK.



Contact Us

     If you reside in NSW or ACT regarding a search, please use the email below

(02) 9211 0277