MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (00:10:23) — My adjournment matter is for the Attorney-General, and the action I seek relates to missing persons and creating an official missing persons status. In raising this I would like to congratulate the Missing Persons Advocacy Network, which is completely unfunded yet provides amazing support for families in need and families that have someone missing.
When you look at this, one person goes missing every 14 minutes in Australia. That is 100 people a day that go missing. Many of them are found very quickly. Many of them go missing because of mental health issues or a range of other reasons. The majority are found within a short period, but hundreds remain missing forever. There are 38 000 families every year dealing with this loss, and emotionally and psychologically this is really hard. I think the Missing Persons Advocacy Network does a great job here, as do the police and other welfare agencies in helping to connect and find these people.
There is a particularly sad aspect that I want to raise in my adjournment tonight, and this is the financial nightmare that follows when something goes missing — not only financial but administrative. Even if the family and the authorities believe the person is deceased, it takes years for a coronial inquest to produce a death certificate, meaning that families are stuck in limbo, insurances cannot be paid out and superannuation is held and generally, over those years, eaten away by fees. Thousands of Australians are dealing with the predicament of not being able to stop phone bills, cancel memberships and close accounts, and they struggle to maintain their households and mortgages.
This is why the action I seek is the creation of an official missing status in Victoria. This is principally for banks and financial institutions. It is an idea that is currently being considered in the Netherlands, and it is a concept that is familiar to our military. I urge the Attorney-General to consider this and be a leader in this area in Australia.