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Family Tracing

Download a printable version of Family Tracing (1.35 MB PDF)

On this page you will find links to organisations that provide family tracing services and tips on how you can try to do some searching yourself for a missing family member or friend.

Family Tracing Organisations

Find & Connect Support Service

The Find & Connect Support Service provides Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and their family members with assistance to search for family and in some circumstances, family reunions. You can call the service in your state or territory on 1800 16 11 09 or email them via the web resource by clicking on the Send message to Find & Connect support service button.

The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service

The Salvation Army run a family tracing service and they can help people to search for direct relatives. There are a number of conditions you will need to meet, including the ability to prove your relationship to the person you are searching for. Also, you will need to contact the relevant office in the state you live in, regardless of where your relative may be located.

The website for the Salvos family tracing service is: https://salvos.org.au/need-help/missing-persons/

Link-Up

Link-Up services help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people separated from their families under the past laws, practices and policies of Australian governments to undertake family tracing and family reunions with counselling support.

The website for the Link-Up service is: http://aiatsis.gov.au/research/finding-your-family/link-services.

Adoption Support Organisations

Some organisations providing support for people affected by adoption provide assistance with family tracing.

See this list of adoption support and advocacy organisations: https://www.dss.gov.au/families-and-children/programmes-services/family-relationships/forced-adoption-practices/support-services-for-people-affected-by-past-forced-adoption-policies-and-practices

Family Tracing Tips

White Pages

It might sound a little obvious, but it’s always worth checking the phone book! The Australian White Pages has a website where you can search the Australia-wide directory, see:
http://www.whitepages.com.au/

Electoral Rolls

The Australian Electoral Roll is an important resource for family tracing. Produced by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), the electoral roll is a list of the names and addresses of everyone who is eligible and enrolled to vote in Australia. In April 2015, these were the rules about public access to the most current electoral roll in AEC offices:

  • Members of the public may access the publicly available roll on Public Access Terminals in AEC offices without challenge as to the purpose which they are accessing the roll.
  • AEC staff will still monitor public access to the roll to enforce the restriction on copying or recording the roll by electronic means.
  • AEC staff will monitor public access to the roll in relation to the length of time an individual member of the public uses a terminal in order to ensure that other members of the public can also gain access in a timely fashion.

The previous policy, which restricted people from searching the electoral roll for information about other people, was reversed in April 2015. Note that under the rules, you may not copy, record or photograph any information from the electoral roll with any electronic device.

Follow this link for more information about viewing the electoral roll: http://aec.gov.au/Enrolling_to_vote/About_Electoral_Roll/.

For family tracing, historic electoral rolls can be very useful in tracking people over time and place. Past copies of electoral rolls (published annually) are available for public inspection in state and local libraries. Contact your local library or the state library in your capital city to see what electoral rolls are in their collection.

The Australian Electoral Rolls from 1903 to 1980 are available for viewing and searching through the ‘Ancestry.com.au’ website. This is not a free website, however, you can access Ancestry.com.au for free at the Find & Connect Support Service in your state or territory and in State Libraries in each capital city. It may also be available at your local library.

Births Deaths and Marriages

Every state and territory has a registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (or BDM), which is responsible for registering life events including births, deaths, marriages, changes of name, and adoptions. Here is a list of the registries around Australia: http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/family-and-community/births-deaths-and-marriages-registries.

Most BDM offices have a website where you can search birth, death and marriage family history indexes, at no cost. But, you do have to pay to look at search results, and to get a copy of a certificate from BDM. Also please be aware that the registries only have information for the state they are in, and they will not be able to search nationwide for you.

Social Networking – Facebook

Increasingly, social networking sites like Facebook are the way that people stay in touch with their family and friends. These websites can also provide a way to search for and make contact with people. If you are new to the world of social media, it is best to learn as much as you can about how sites like Facebook work, and to proceed with caution.

  • Remember that Facebook is a public space. Unless you use its messaging facility, what you post on your or somebody else’s profile is visible to everyone. Think about your privacy as well as the privacy of the person you are trying to locate.
  • People all over the world use sites like Facebook. Make sure that you have the right person before making contact!