Guide for reporting unexplained absences

Page last updated: 31 July 2017

Compulsory reporting of unexplained absences or missing residents is the responsibility of an approved provider under the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act). 

A resident is considered missing when they are absent and the service is unaware of any reasons for the absence.

Approved providers should report the missing resident to the police within a reasonable timeframe so an appropriate response and action can be taken to locate the resident.

If a resident is absent from the service, the absence is unexplained and the absence has been reported to the police, approved providers are required to tell the department about the missing resident within 24 hours of reporting the absence to the police.

If an approved provider fails to meet compulsory reporting requirements the department may take compliance action.

Reporting to the Department of Health

To report a missing resident the approved provider should, within 24 hours of a report being made to the police:


  • Call the compulsory reporting line on 1800 081 549. Note: it is the Department’s preference that a written form is submitted.

Role of the department in unexplained absence reports

If a resident is absent from an aged care service, and the absence is unexplained, the police will take any necessary action.

Any information provided to the department in relation to an unexplained absence will be recorded and may be used by the department as part of its ongoing regulatory functions under the Act.

The department may take compliance action where approved providers do not meet the compulsory reporting requirements under the Act.

What if the resident is returned before an approved provider became aware that the resident was missing?

There is no requirement for providers to report to the department if the care recipient was returned to the service before their absence was reported to the police. However, providers must report to the department if the police are aware of the care recipient’s absence or where the care recipient has been returned to the service by the police.



Compulsory reporting telephone line: 1800 081 549

More information