Smoke and Soda Heathcote gets creative with coffee for Missing Persons Week

Coffee is getting creative at Heathcote, in the hope the arty cups will jog someone's memory.

Smoke and Soda Cafe has jumped on board a campaign that promotes National Missing Persons Week (NMPW), an annual and weekly cause (August 4-10).

A total of 38,000 Australians are reported missing each year and there are 2600 long term missing persons in Australia.

The cup launch is the brainchild of Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) is an organisation that supports missing people and their families, and engages the community with creative and innovative campaigns.

This month it is running a modern take on the old milk carton campaigns, with biodegradable (BioPak) coffee cups carrying some significant visual messages.

The network has partnered with cafes across Australia to raise awareness of the 38,000 Australians who go missing every year.

Smoke and Soda is one of the Sydney cafes - and the only Sutherland Shire cafe, that has joined the cause this year.

From August 2, it has been promoting the cups, which have eight designs featuring artworks that tell the stories of eight missing loved ones, for the entire week. Cups feature those eight Australians who have been missing for up to six years. Two are from Sydney, two from other parts of NSW, and the others from other states.

Network founder Loren O'Keeffe says 'the unmissables' coffee cup campaign is a modern take on the well-known stark, grainy photos on milk cartons that often depict individuals as cases rather than people.

"We paired families of long-term missing Australians with authors and artists to capture the essence of the individual, rather than just stats on a poster," she said.

"The cups are so beautiful and striking, you don't realise right away it's about a long term missing Australian. It's a beautiful image of a person with a story."

The reasons for going missing can include mental illness, miscommunication, misadventure, domestic violence, and being a victim of crime.

Specific population groups are recognised as particularly vulnerable to harm while missing. Adults are more likely to be listed as long-term missing persons, but youth are most likely to be reported missing at a rate of six times the national average.

Other at risk groups of going missing include children, those suffering a mental illness, or depression, the elderly and those living with dementia, persons expressing suicidal thoughts, those living with an intellectual or physical disability or without life-saving medication.

Jodie Ward, of Heathcote, is on the board of the Melbourne-based network, and has been campaigning for the past few years to get a national DNA identification program to help identify missing persons when human remains are found.

"[It's about] getting the cups out there for people to see," she said. "It might even jog someone's memory about one of the missing."

The Australian Federal Police has an online register of all reported missing people in Australia. The Leader has included a photo gallery of some of those missing in St George and Sutherland Shire.

If you have any information on missing persons call Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

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