Canberra residents walk to end family violence

Trigger warning: this article makes reference to family and domestic violence 

In March this year, a staff member from Department of Human Services participated in a 4km walk to raise funds and awareness about the effects of family violence.

‘Tara’s Walk for Change’, which is organised by the Tara Costigan Foundation, took place on 19 March and for Elodie Oxenham, a Social Work Support Manager in Canberra, the cause is close to her heart.

“I became a social worker because I have a vision of a safer, more just society and a better world,” she said.

“I’ve been practising for 10 years and almost every day I see people who experience family and domestic violence.”

The event started in 2015 as a way for people to remember Canberra resident, Tara Costigan, who tragically died as a result of family violence in February 2015.

“A month after she died, a walk was organised to demonstrate the community’s outpouring of sympathy and support,” Elodie said.

“The family were hoping to have about 100 people show up but more than 4,000 people came along to demand real change on family and domestic violence. It was really heartening to see.”

The walk has also become a way for the Tara Costigan Foundation to raise funds for their ‘Tara’s Angels’ service. This service provides people experiencing family and domestic violence and their families a personal case worker for a period of up to 2 years at no cost to the victims.

Nadia, a representative from the Tara Costigan Foundation, says the event this year was a success.

“This year we had just over 1000 people attend, which was great. As well as members of Tara’s family, we had politicians, domestic violence survivors and people who were just passionate about the cause,” she said.

“We raised $3,500 for ‘Tara’s Angels’. Every donation helps us provide support to people who have been victims of family violence and their families.”

For Elodie, although the experience was positive, the sense of loss was still apparent.

“During the walk, the atmosphere was definitely mixed,” she said.

“On the one hand, there was a sense of grief for the loss of Tara and all victims of family violence. But there was also a sense of hope for the future.”

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