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Police 'Going Old School' In Bid To Find Missing Australians

Canberrans are being asked to be the "eyes and ears" of police in the bid to find long-term missing people from the nation's capital.

From Thursday, thousands of bottles of milk sent out to stores across the state will be plastered with the faces of 12 missing Australians, some of whom disappeared decades ago.

Authorities are hoping the joint initiative, between the Australian Federal Police and Canberra Milk will start a new conversation about the region's missing people, and ultimately help police find them, AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz said.

PHOTO: AFP

Platz lauded the campaign, made popular in the U.S. in the 1980s, as a "tried-and-tested method" of using the community to help police in their investigations, ensuring thousands of Canberrans will get the message.

“It takes back to the days, before Amber Alerts and social media notifications, to when reports of missing people appeared in a place guaranteed to catch the eyes of the broader population – on milk cartons," Platz said on Thursday.

This initiative will result in missing persons’ profiles being seen by many thousands of Canberrans every time they have a bowl of cereal, bake a cake or make a cup of tea.

Director of Capital Chilled Foods Australia David Tyack said the initiative was about helping the families and loved ones of those that have gone missing.

“We thought it would be a great idea to help get the message out by going old school and advertising on our 1L Canberra Milk Full Cream bottles”, Tyack said.

The initiative launched on Thursday will run for six weeks with the marked bottles available to be purchased from all usual Canberra Milk retailers.

Who Are The Missing?

According to the AFP Missing Persons website, more than 38,000 missing person reports are submitted to police every year across the nation.

More than 2,600 people are listed as long-term missing persons, meaning they have been missing for more than three months.

READ MORE: 'The Door Is Always Open’: The Plea This Missing Persons Week

READ MORE: Australia's Oldest Unsolved Missing Persons Cases

The missing persons selected for the AFP and Canberra Milk's new campaign are all long-term missing people from the ACT.

TOP (left to right): Laura Haworth, Elizabeth Herfort, Amelia Hausla. BOTTOM (left to right): Kate Alexander, Megan Mulquiney, Wendy Dalla. PHOTO: missingpersons.gov.au

Laura Haworth went missing in January 2008 from a friend's house in Queanbeyan. She left for work in her red Mazda 121 but never made it home. She has not been seen or heard from since, but her car was recovered at a car park two weeks after she disappeared.

After leaving a bar at the Australian National University on 13 June 1980, Elizabeth Herfort was never heard from again. Investigators believe she may have been hitch-hiking in Canberra at the time she disappeared.

Amelia Hausia disappeared from the Woden Plaza Shopping Centre just before Christmas in 1992 after a fight with her boyfriend. Numerous sightings have been reported since her disappearance but no positive identification has ever been made.

Kate Alexander who would now be 107-years-old went missing in March 1974. She was last seen in her Yarralumla home and has been described to police as being someone that could "easily be taken advantage of."

Megan Mulquiney was last seen waiting for a bus after finishing her shift at the Woden Shopping Centre Big W on 28 July 1984. She never made it home.

Mother-of-three Wendy Dalla was last seen in September 1975 after leaving her home in Cook for a short walk to the local shops. She has not been seen or heard from since.

TOP (left to right): David Abuoi, Jean Policarpio, Owen Williams. BOTTOM: (left to right) Wayne Pickett, Anthony Fahey, Robert Jacob. PHOTO: missingpersons.gov.au

David Abuoi had only recently moved to Canberra from Sydney when he disappeared after visiting friends in July 2012. Police investigating his disappearance believe he also uses the names Gabrielle and/or Malak.

Jean Vincent Diezmo Policarpio, also known as Vince, was last seen by his family on September 26, 2017. He left his personal possessions at home the day he went missing and despite extensive searches in nearby bushland, lakes, and ponds at the time of his disappearance, he has never been found.

Owen Williams disappeared most recently among the group and was last seen in South Australia on 29 May 2018, after previously living in the ACT. He was known to also use the alias of Gwen Wellian and suffers from a brain injury after a motor vehicle accident.

Missing for more than 24 years, NSW man Wayne Pickett was last seen in May 1995 intending to travel to Canberra in search for permanent accommodation ahead of a move to the nation's capital. He has not been seen or heard from since.

Anthony Fahey is believed to have boarded a bus from Belconnen in the ACT bound for Sydney when he went missing. He has not been seen or heard from since he disappeared on 3 July 2013.

Robert Jacob went missing from Canberra's CBD in November 2015. Robert who had problems with his heart and lungs around the time he disappeared was reported missing by his daughter. He has several recognisable tattoos including one on his left forearm which featured a  graphic of barbed wire, Ned Kelly, ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad.' and another on his left arm with the words ‘BIANCA,’ and ‘BRIONY.'

“If you recognise any of the missing people profiled in the campaign, or have information about any of Australia’s long-term missing persons on the Public Register at www.missingpersons.gov.au, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000,” ACT Chief Police Officer  Ray Johnson said.

Contact the author vgerova@networkten.com.au