Searching for a Missing Person in Australia?

If you're trying to find people in Australia, you're not alone! One missing person in Australia is reported every eighteen minutes, which amounts to 30,000 every year. People search in Australia can be difficult. Australia is a vast country, with great distances between towns and cities making communities isolated and remote. The country also has very stringent privacy laws, with one Federal (Commonwealth) Government responsible for all of Australia and then each of the 6 states and 2 territories having its own government maintaining public records for their own jurisdiction. So what can you do?

Concern for safety and welfare?

Phone the local police station immediately

If someone you know is missing and you have serious concerns for their safety, notify the local police station, near their last address, immediately. There is no need to wait 24-48 hours. The police work to national minimum standards for investigation of missing persons. Most people return safe and well.

  • Contact the Australian Missing Persons Unit
  • Or for further info online: in touch with the Salvation Army Missing Persons Unit
  • Go online to:
  • Lost Touch? Finding someone in Australia

There is a limited range of resources freely available. They can be difficult to find and use, but certainly worth a go!

Try the phone book!

If you just need to locate people in Australia, one way to start is by checking the Australian White Pages. You may just get lucky! The White Pages only give you the surname and just an initial for the Christian name, but they can be useful if you know the general area of where the person lives.

Go online by going to
If you are in Australia, try Directory Assistance 1223
If you are calling outside Australia, try the International Directory Services in your own country.

Remember that as Australia is a large Country, the complexity of compiling the White Pages for all the states and territories is tricky and so often it is out of date. Also many people in Australia are ex-directory.

Here are some online 'White Pages' that you may want to try:

Yahoo People Search:
Women's White Pages:

Delve through the voting registration records!

If you are locating a missing person who is an Australian citizen, then you may find them on the Australian electoral roll for the electorate they live in. The records are available at the Offices of the Australian Electoral Commission, the Office of State and Commonwealth Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies (MP's and MLA's). Members each have a copy of the electoral roll on disc for their own use, and may allow you to use it to undertake a search, otherwise all rolls are on microfiche or paper.
Go to

Incomplete address?

If you know part of an address, try these sites: - a quick database lets you type in street name, state or place and then locates the address on a convenient map - an internet address finder


There are a few websites where you can search for email addresses, however these sites are not easy to use and are unlike 'directory enquiries'. This is because email addresses can be registered in many places and that means the task can be difficult and frustrating. All the directories available don't communicate with each other, so just because you can't find information on one, doesn't mean you won't find it on another. Here are some web addresses that may help:

Internet search engines

Many people have an unknown presence on the web, so a simple way of looking is to type their name into a search engine. There are a lot of sites that can be used and here is just a small selection:

Last seen backpacking or travelling?

This website has a people locator that just may be the ticket!

Were they a member of an organisation or university?

A couple of good sites to start are:

Look through the Australian Criminal Records

Go online to or to check to see if someone is in prison, you can phone the Department of Corrective Services in the relevant state or territory and they will confirm if a person is incarcerated.

Find people in business

This site provides details of all registered businesses, their proprietors and directors,

Purchase a search online or a CD ROM

There are some companies on the web which offer disks or indexes of information online. Please be warned that some of these companies offering 'government records, social security numbers, court records or car registration details' are often US based, yet come up on searches for 'people finder Australia'. These details are unavailable in Australia and therefore will be of no use.

There are some good ones, such as Australia on Disk, Citec or the Australian People Index, but it is often more economical, more accurate and less time-consuming to hire a professional people locator.

Hire a professional 'People Locator'!

The cost for hiring a professional varies and totally depends on how difficult the person is to trace. Simple searches range from $50-200, but more complicated and lengthy work could be more, but worth it for avoiding the frustration and saving time. Don't forget that 10% GST will be added to your final bill.

Reputable investigators, such as, pay well for access to a comprehensive range of information and databases that are not available to the public, as well as having research sources at their fingertips. This information has to be up to date to be commercially viable. Private Investigators are the experts, its something that they do day in day out, locating people quickly because they know where and how to look!

Tips on hiring a People Locator in Australia

Gather as much information on the person you wish to find - for example; full name, date of birth, any previous addresses, email addresses, places they last worked, names of friends, relatives and places they were like to socialise. The more you can tell the People Locator, the quicker they can find them.

Agree how to pay

The two most popular ways of paying an investigator are either by agreeing a 'fixed cost' or by paying a 'retainer fee'.

Fixed costs – some investigators offering a range of 'packages' which are set at certain prices. This is a good idea if you want to budget the cost. However until an investigator starts, they cannot possible know how long or how difficult it will be to find someone. Fixed rates that are quoted may be over inflated to cover 'eventualities' rather than the actual cost.

Retainer- this is where you agree an upfront payment which will cover costs such as expenses, document searches, phone calls and hourly rate for time. The benefit to you is that all items are accurately documented on a regular basis and once the retainer is exhausted, the investigator then has to justify any further work.

Ask for a timeline - professionals should be able to look at the information you have provided and estimate how long it normally takes

Keep communicating - a good company will keep you up to date with their progress

Make sure they are licensed - ask the investigator for proof of their licence. Licensed private investigators are the only people permitted in Australia to obtain and provide information

Whichever method you use, whether its hiring a professional people finder in Australia, trawling the web, utilising some of the free search engines or just the telephone directory, good luck with your search!

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