Tara Costigan’s boys need their family to come together

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Marcus Paul.
Marcus Paul.

IT was the horrific murder that shocked the Capital to it’s core. A young mother brutally murdered 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 clearly evident in the following weeks after Tara Costigan’s death. As we tend to do during adversity, Canberran’s 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 our Central Lake in defiance of yet another woman taken by a sickening act of alleged domestic violence. There was well in excess of one hundred thousand dollars raised in the name of Tara’s three children – two boys aged * and * and a beautiful baby girl aged just one week. It was heartbreaking. Further fund raising 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.

Tara Costigan and boys

Enter David. David is the father of the boys, and has resumed their care on a full time basis, while 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 is unfortunately 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 up­side 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. According to him – he’s not 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. This writer, 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 simply amazing 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 – and that is the prickly topic of ‘money’.

To date, David claims he had not received a cent from any fund raising effort in the name of the children. To clarify, he insists, any financial support would be for the general day to day care of the boys. He is not looking for a massive cash windfall by any means, rather some clarification on where the money raised by Canberran’s 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. What now needs to happen is all parties to come together and try and discuss the issues with the best interests of the children at the heart of everything. The Costigan’s 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 no­one 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-6pm, weekdays on 2CC

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  1. Is this in the public interest as a story or column? Absolutely not. This is a private matter and to write about it in a public forum is tasteless to say the least.

      • If the donations were made to the foundation, then I would agree entirely.

        But these are donations that were made to the family. The key difference is that the family isn’t a public entity like the foundation is. These were, for all intents and purposes, gifts of condolence and support, and once a gift is given, we no longer have the right to dictate how it’s used.

        This is not something that should be played out on a public stage. Doing so only adds to the hurt.

    • Thanks for your comment Noni but I strongly disagree. A private matter does not deal with public money intended for the most helpless in this whole awful story, the children. Also, Tara Costigan’s name – and the Foundation are hardly private.

      • You note yourself that at the core of this issue (the care of Tara Costigan’s children) is family relations. Therefore it’s a matter for the family, not for the public to try and solve or investigate. If anything, bringing this into the public eye is likely to deepen those rifts, not resolve or heal them. They would be better served by you privately advocating for and supporting David instead of writing this piece.

        If you were in this situation, would you engage in good faith with someone who was making private family matters public? And is it going to be for the best for the family in the long term if the situation is made right under the duress of public scrutiny? In terms of the benefits for the boys and the broader family, I can’t help feeling that this piece has the potential to do more harm than good.

        Tara Costigan, her story and her family aren’t public property. The Tara Costigan Foundation is, because it engages with the broader community, but the way the funds given to the family – NOT the foundation – are to be used is something to be determined by them. The two share a tragedy, but they are separate entities, and we need to start treating them that way.

        Again: the issues the family are facing within their own unit are not the business of the public, and the publishing of this article was irresponsible and potentially damaging to those it seeks to help.

          • Nope. I’m just thinking about how I would respond in that situation. I’d feel pretty betrayed.

            I’m not a fan of the airing of private family matters in general, whether it be on social media or in publications like CityNews, especially in circumstances like these. I firmly believe that privacy is something that needs to be respected, and I’m concerned that a lack of privacy is something that’s quickly being deemed the norm.

            That, and my instinct made me feel that Marcus’ article was exploiting another family’s issues and tragedy for clicks. At this point, I’m not sure if his latest piece confirms or invalidates that feeling.

  2. Has the Dad made contact with the ACT Law firm who are holding the money in trust? My understanding was that the money raised for the kids trust fund wasn’t organised by the Costigan family at all so presumably wouldn’t he have to contact the law firm, not the Costigan family, to gain access to the money?

  3. Some may say that the children should have the money put in a trust for them when they are older and my opinion would be use the money to provide them with an excellent education and make sure that their needs, and not wants are met.

  4. I believe the father and boys are living in Public housing. The father was required to setup a house at very short notice. Isn’t this what the money we(the public) donated to?

    It seems the issue at hand is that the Costigans are not happy with the care arrangement of the boys. It appears that the only way the Cositgans are able to control the situation is to put the money in a trust.

    I DID NOT donate money for it to be locked away in a trust. I would prefer my money to be spent on items like push bikes, education. Real Items that are able to be used now to improve the kids lives now…. not in 8-10 years time.

    The fact the father has never been informed about the money makes me wonder…. Whats really happening with the Foundation?

    Its clear not everything is as it appears

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