How does my wife find her long-lost sister (Australia)?
November 7, 2006 9:48 PM   Subscribe

How does my wife find her long-lost sister (Australia)?

Recently, my wife has decided to go looking for her long-lost half sister from her Dad's previous marriage. However, she has no idea how to begin the search. We know her birth name, date of birth etc, but her Dad hasn’t spoken to her for years, so we're not sure of anything else (like, for instance, whether she's been married, where she now lives etc). Does anybody have any idea how we can begin this search and the best method of finding someone?
posted by ranglin to Human Relations (17 answers total)
I would start by searching the electoral roll. I'm not entirely sure how you do it, but we managed to find a man that my pop hadn't seen for 40 years through it.
posted by cholly at 9:51 PM on November 7, 2006

It looks like you need to go to an AEC office to view the roll. link
posted by cholly at 9:53 PM on November 7, 2006

People sometimes register here with their maiden names, when looking for old school friends or workmates. Free to look, costs to contact.

Advertisments in major newspapers may assist. Sometimes the Salvation Army can help.
posted by b33j at 10:26 PM on November 7, 2006

Is the mother alive? Don't forget to also search for the mother, as she may be easier to find and know where the sister is.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:55 AM on November 8, 2006

How about the White Pages? Of course if her name is "Jane Smith" that's not going to help much.

I'm sure Australian-resident MeFites will be happy to help if there's something they can do which involves being physically located here. Email me by all means.

Do you have anything other than "Australia" to go on?

Australia does of course have detective agencies who can do this kind of thing for a fee.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:00 AM on November 8, 2006

Email me too by all means. While AmbroseChapel is located in NSW, I'm offering myself as a Queensland resident.
posted by b33j at 1:24 AM on November 8, 2006

The Salvation Army in Australia has a family tracing service which "endeavours to locate family members whose current whereabouts are unknown and who are being sought for the purpose of re-uniting the family"
posted by slightlybewildered at 2:17 AM on November 8, 2006

We know her birth name, date of birth etc

It seems to me that the best advice regarding your request will hinge on what "etc" refers to.

See, if you have old addresses (or what state even), work type, date of emigration and similar, even if vague, information, it will dictate the priorities for moving forward. In other words, there is no 'best search method' - although as a broad axe starting point the electoral role search as suggested is as good a place as any. And I say this as someone who has done 'some' investigative undertakings in the past.
posted by peacay at 3:02 AM on November 8, 2006

Sorry, just to sightly elaborate -

Obviously, establishing name and location are the priorities. From memory, there a number of (almost certain to cost) searches such as Land Title Office and Births Deaths and Marriages and Credit Reports and Company Directorship Searches and (perhaps, but unlikely) Taxation Department ---- these are I guess the basic things that I vaguely remember, that are the 'usual' avenues for establishing identity and location.

But if I knew that this person had a trade or a particular sporting ability or the like, I would probably widen the field to include, you know, relevant associations (and websites for instance).

We of course have the usual privacy laws which these days make this sort of thing that much more difficult so I can't say which way is easier, but again, the etc is an important element we are missing.

Bearing all of this in mind, the capitalised words above will probably yield google results (for NSW) in terms of working out what costs or rigmarole you may need to go through. But we have 7 states/territories and most of these searches are state specific.

And just in terms of first principles - is it known whether or not this person had particular ties to anyone/association/clubs etc etc in your country - as another way to see if you can find her from your end? Also, following on from the Salvation Army suggestion, it may well be the case that your local church associations (eg 7th Day Adventist) will be able to provide assistance.

I'm also happy to be emailed by the by by.
posted by peacay at 3:27 AM on November 8, 2006

oh and here's something Centrelink (Social Security) used to do 20 years ago when I worked there. If you send a not sealed letter (so they can read it) addressed to the person to Centrelink with a cover note explaining the circumstances, they may forward it on without ever advising you that they have done so (to protect the person's privacy). They might not do it either.
posted by b33j at 3:56 AM on November 8, 2006

My father-in-law found a brother in Canada 50 years later by writing to the local newspaper in the town he had lived in.
posted by Idcoytco at 4:02 AM on November 8, 2006

a note, damn it, not a not.
posted by b33j at 4:12 AM on November 8, 2006

I haven't got any advice for the original questioner, but those responding might like to note that ranglin is himself in Sydney.
posted by jacalata at 7:33 AM on November 8, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses thus far guys. My wife has had a further chat to her dad and filled in the Salvation Army form. We'll see what happens..

Reading the responses thus far, I guess our biggest problem is that she is probably married now and we don't really know how to connect the two together.. We can search things like the white pages or the electoral roll, but with only the maiden name, not sure how far we'd get! Also, unfortunately the name is fairly common, so there are a lot of false hits you have to wade through anyway.

Of course, we know all the birth details, and you need to provide a birth certificate when you get married, so if we can link the two together we can work out a married name.. Does anyone know if this is possible? Searching marriage records against birth details?

peacay: We've learned a little bit more, like the fact that we think she attended Univ. of Wollongong and trained to be a teacher, so your idea definately has merit, maybe the Uni or the education board can help....

Oh and jacalata, thanks for clarifying for me.. I did have a comment that said "We're in Sydney if it matters", but it got lost in the cut-n-paste of the question! :)
posted by ranglin at 2:38 PM on November 8, 2006

Goooooogle her! I found my biological father with one google search.
posted by jesirose at 7:30 PM on November 8, 2006

Hm. ranglin, that was a bit um...errant of you not to say where you were, as it did obviously matter.
There is a Wollongong Uni Alumni Association website.
posted by peacay at 1:22 AM on November 9, 2006

If you know what school she went to, a lot of (private, anyway) schools have alumni records, and send out a school magazine. If they won't give you any details, you could put a message in the magazine asking her or her friends to get in touch.
posted by jacalata at 5:59 AM on November 9, 2006

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