It was a murder that shocked the nation’s capital to its core. A young mother killed in her Canberra home in front of her own children. It is now up to our judicial system to explore how and why such a beautiful caring mother had her life cut so tragically short.
What is certain, is that this incident touched our city in a way like no other. This was evident by the community’s response in the weeks after Tara Costigan’s death. As we tend to do during times of adversity, Canberrans rallied together to support Tara’s family and her children.
A Go Fund Me page was established by caring and well-meaning friends. Thousands walked in solidarity around Lake Burley Griffin in defiance of yet another woman taken by a sickening act of alleged domestic violence. Over $100,000 dollars was raised in the name of Tara’s three children – two boys and a beautiful baby girl just one week old. Further fundraising efforts ensued, and so determined were the family, they established a foundation in Tara’s name which aims to provide support to women so they might avoid the same fate.
Enter David. David is the father of Tara’s two boys, and has resumed their care on a full-time basis. Tara’s baby girl has remained with her grandmother. David and Tara’s relationship had long been over, but he has stepped up to take care of their children in what can only be described as the worst of circumstances. Being a single parent is a tough gig, though David is lucky to have the support of his family and loving partner. He has court-approved guardianship despite some acrimony between himself and the extended Costigan family, something which unfortunately is normal when relationships break down.
To say David has taken on full time care of his children under duress would be an understatement. Imagine if you will, the boys dealing with the terrible death of their mother before their own eyes, and then moving in full-time with Dad, after only seeing him every second week or so. Naturally these children need love, care, understanding and attention as they come to terms with what has turned their young lives up-side down. This is something David is trying to do, with the support of his extended family.
The problem, it appears, is that David is also somewhat on the outer. He says he hasn’t received any support or contact from the Costigan family. David’s own family have expressed frustration at what they have seen developing over the past few months. Some even feel the boys and their father have been left behind in the wake of the Tara Costigan Foundation.
One thing needs to be made perfectly clear. Myself, David and his family are fully supportive of the Tara Costigan Foundation and the wonderful work it has pledged to undertake on behalf of victims of domestic violence. The work done so far has been commendable, and it is incredible to see how this family has risen above their own loss to move forward in a positive way and honour their daughter in this way. The Costigans, from my experience, are a resilient and warm family.
However, there is still more to be done, and David believes this must start with communication and a coming together of everyone involved in Tara’s life. It must also involve that subject which can quite often divide even the closest knit of families – the prickly topic of ‘money’.
To date, David claims he had not received a cent from any fundraising effort in the name of the children. To clarify, he insists that any financial support would be for the general day to day care of the boys. He is not looking for a massive cash windfall, but he does want clarification on where the money raised by Canberrans for his boys is being kept, and how he might access this in the appropriate manner.
It would appear there is a communication breakdown born out of tragedy. It’s already difficult enough dealing with ex-partners with residual anger and hurt without throwing a vicious ugly crime in the mix.
The funds raised are currently held in trust at an ACT Law Firm. Now all parties need to come together and try and discuss the issues with the best interests of the children at the heart of everything. The Costigans say they are happy to do so, and it is hoped a happy ending is on the horizon.
At the end of the day, everyone involved here needs some joy and hope amid their grief, and perhaps no-one more so than the two boys involved, as they are old enough to understand what has happened.
Marcus Paul is the host of Canberra Live 3pm weekdays on 2CC.