One woman is murdered by her current or former partner every week - on average - in Australia*. They are more than statistics. They are mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, neighbours, colleagues and friends, and so much more… just like Tara was.

February 28, 2019, marked the four-year anniversary of one of the most heinous crimes of domestic and family violence; the heartbreaking death of one of our valued BaptistCare employees.

A co-worker and a friend to many of us, Tara Costigan provided comfort, support and dignity to the aged and vulnerable. This well-loved Mum to three beautiful children was vivacious with an infectious laugh and a wicked sense of humour.

“Our clients said she was like family to them, and I know that her bubbly personality and happy nature made her a wonderful carer,” said Iris Malone, BaptistCare Home Services Canberra.

“She got on well with everyone, and she continues to be missed by all of us.”

Tara’s death sparked movement. Over the last four years, we’ve seen domestic and family violence brought to the forefront in news headlines and annual marches. Significant changes in policy, planning, legislation, and critical Government funding has also come to life.

During this time, BaptistCare HopeStreet has been at the frontline; a safe haven for women and children fleeing violence to run to.

“We provide secure crisis accommodation and emergency finances, we work with individuals and families to help them secure appropriate long-term housing, no-interest loans, and financial stability,” says Rob Ellis, BaptistCare General Manager Community Services.

“Through specialised counselling services, women and children regain their confidence, courage, self-belief and independence. We support them to begin again, create safe homes and build new lives.”

“Why? We know lives can be transformed – we see it happen – and we believe deep change is possible, and vital for the future of our communities and our families,” says Ellis.

Tara’s legacy, her angels

There remains a certain perception that domestic and family violence only happens to select segments of our community. Family and domestic violence does not discriminate.

BaptistCare HopeStreet works with the beating hearts and brave faces of the women and their children who are living in distress, terrorised and vulnerable through manipulation, control and fear.

BaptistCare HopeStreet’s Tara’s Angels provides a post-crisis personal caseworker for up to two years - at no cost - for the survivors attempting to rebuild their lives.

“Some of our clients come from very professional backgrounds, some from economically sound families, while others haven’t had the same opportunities available to them,” said Danny Guest, manager of Tara’s Angels. 

“In the same way, some women are single, others are mothers with children of all different ages from newborns to teenagers.” 

“Tara’s Angels is a unique service. We’re not just focussing on one area. It’s a flexible approach that addresses the whole person in every aspect of her life,” said Danny.

“We look at every element; social, psychological, financial, career, health. Whatever it is that the client has highlighted as a specific goal in rebuilding her life, that’s what the caseworker, the Angel, works with her to achieve.” 

“The Angels themselves share a real passion for helping empower women and re-establish lives. They fulfil the role of a counsellor, mentor, and guide as well as connecting them to essential services.”

“In a case where a woman is a mother, the wonderful thing about the flexibility of Tara’s Angels is if there are needs of the children, the caseworker can frame their work around meeting their needs also.” 

Tara’s Angels has supported over 100 families since it began helping women rebuild their lives in October 2016. Sadly, demand for this and our frontline services are increasing.

All women and children have a right to live a life free from violence. Will you help us? 

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If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic or family violence, please call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or ACT Domestic Violence Crisis 24-hour Service line on 6280 0900. In an emergency, call 000.

*Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018. 28 Feb 2018.