Buvette Masthead

The Tara Costigan Foundation’s first angel

Veronika Cox

Erin Regan knows a thing or two about turning tragedy into triumph.

The 34-year-old social work student who lost her sister to domestic violence more than 20 years ago, and also escaped her own abusive relationship was named as the Tara Costigan Foundation’s first ‘angel’ at the organisation’s official launch on Sunday.

Erin Regan

Federal Member for Labour, Gai Brodtmann with the first angle of the Tara Costigan Foundation, Erin Regan.

It is no surprise Erin was drawn to the foundation, which is named in honour of Tara Maree Costigan, 28, who was allegedly killed by former partner Marcus Rappel at Calwell in February this year.

“I think my whole life has lead me to this position,” Erin says.

“I know what being a victim is like and I can support others on their way to becoming survivors. I know by joining the Tara Costigan Foundation in the fight against domestic violence my sister would be very proud that her death didn’t destroy me, and has given me the courage to empower others.”

Erin’s role as the first Tara’s Angel will be to connect and coordinate vital services with clients and their families. She will be a best friend and case worker, helping people create safe homes and build new lives.

“Domestic violence is increasing at alarming rates throughout Australia,” she says. “We are losing our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. The foundation is going to fill the gaps in the system. Medium to long-term case management is essential. We shouldn’t be losing two women a week.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten agreed, both throwing their weight behind the foundation on Sunday.

“Domestic violence is a national priority,” Mr Abbott said in his video address to launch attendees. “Tara’s death is a reminder that our country must change, our community must change and we all must change.”

Mr Shorten said the era of pulling down the blinds and turning up the television to block out the noise next door was over. “The tide is turning,” he said. “Together we will eliminate family violence.”

TCF chief executive Michael Costigan says his family was overwhelmed by the love and support they received.

“The response from political leaders, service providers, friends, media and the Canberra community was heartwarming,” he says.

“Yesterday was the culmination of more than three months of loyalty and relentless service by our amazing team of Head Angels. We conceived, we believed and we achieved. The launch was just the beginning of a long, long journey of change; but, wow, what a beginning.”

Mr Costigan said that moving forward with the foundation, he could not imagine anyone more suited to the crucial role of Tara’s Angel than Erin.

“Our Tara’s Angels need to be multi-skilled, tertiary-trained and experienced. This is a commitment for the long haul. Erin took the initiative to get involved and her passion and determination sealed it for us.”

It is the start of a long road for Erin, but she is mentally prepared for the work ahead.

“When you are caught up in the system, it is a scary place to navigate alone,” she says. “I have been able to speak out for the first time in 23 years to tell my story, and I hope to empower others to do the same. We need to get the message out there: Don’t give up, we will listen and we will help, you are not alone.

“Together we are strong.”

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.


Veronika Cox

Veronika Cox is a freelance journalist and works with the Tara Costigan Foundation in public affairs. She also runs Muddle Puddle Market and the Canberra Baby & Beyond Expo – all squeezed in around trying to get her toddler into warm clothes, and dreaming of snuggling up on the couch and finishing a book. More about the Author