We've partnered with CommBank to help them showcase everyday people that are making Australia exceptional. Whilst the big heroes we see on the news obvi' deserve our gratitude, it's high-time we celebrate the littler ones. Y'know, the champs flying under the radar that deserve a bit of a shout-out. To do this, CommBank created the Australian of the Day series. Today, we get to know Loren O'Keeffe, the woman behind the Missing Persons Advocacy Network who's searching for her missing brother Dan. Head on over to CommBank's Australian of the Daywebsite to read more.
On July 15, 2011, Loren O'Keeffe's younger brother Dan left the house and never came back. At 24 years old, Dan had recently been diagnosed with depression, and took no money, I.D. or personal belongings with him.
When Dan disappeared, Loren quit her job and put her future in international business on hold in order to devote her time and energy to finding Dan, who she believes is still alive, but not reaching out due to his mental health issues.
Loren launched a huge social media campaign, Dan Come Home, which led to a sighting of Dan being reported five months after his disappearance. Unfortunately, he has still not been located.
While many people would get lost in feelings of helplessness, Loren has continued to be pro-active and positive in both her search for her brother, and in helping other families with missing relatives.
She set up the Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) as well as the world's first Missing Persons Guide, a guide to what to do if a loved one goes missing, in order to provide loved ones with practical, basic direction and advice, and hopefully alleviate some of those feelings of hopelessness and despair.
“When someone goes missing, time is of the essence. Understandably people are overwhelmed with that hopelessness; it’s such a surreal scenario to find yourself in. The website was born out of my frustration with the fact that the day that my brother went missing and I asked the police what to do, they couldn’t give me any direction.”
Working for nothing and tirelessly hoping for a lead that will reunite her with her brother, Loren remains positive, calling her work "rewarding".
“Dan’s campaign really allowed other people out there who had considered going missing to see the impact that it had had on Dan’s family and friends. They wrote to us to say that it’s changed their mind and now they’re seeking treatment for their depression, that they haven’t gone missing, and they’ve thanked us – that is the most rewarding thing, to know that our family’s tragedy has saved other families from going through the same thing.”
Over 100 Australians go missing everyday, and Loren's passion is helping other families like hers, she says. That's why she's CommBank'sAustralian of the Day #211.
“My inspiration is Dan. I feel really lucky to be able to do something that I love that is so varied. I feel like Dan has given me that gift. It’s really uncharted territory and that’s exciting to me.”