Young war widows and their children naturally find it heartbreaking to talk about their husbands, but a special camp in Ballarat is making it easier for them.
The annual Ballarat Legacy Club family camp provides young Australian windows and their children with the opportunity to have a break and meet people in similar circumstances.
The four-day camp started with a visit to the Ballarat Wildlife Park on Wednesday, with 18 parents and 25 junior legatees travelling across the country to attend.
Young widow Julie Gittins and her daughter Chelsea, 13, of Frankston, joined the Ballarat camp for the sixth time.
Ms Gittins said the widows in her community were mostly senior citizens so it was nice to have the opportunity to speak with other parents of children under the age of 15.
“To come somewhere like this and have time out with all these children and mums who have had similar things happen to them has been amazing,” Ms Gittins said.
“It’s heartbreaking talking about what happened to our husbands but it’s therapy. It makes you feel normal.”
Ms Gittins said she had made life-long friendships with mothers she had met at the camp in the first three years she attended.
“We are very close and we all have young children. You can’t meet those people anywhere.”
The Ballarat camp is the only one of its kind in Australia where young widows can participate with their children – a concept developed by Legacy club member Jeremy Bannister in 2010.
Fathers who are still active but suffer from post traumatic stress disorder also attended this year’s camp.
Mr Bannister said it was important to care for young widows, who really needed the help and advice of Legacy.
Ballarat Legacy Club secretary Peta Gillespie said the camp had a full schedule with visits to Sovereign Hill and the movie theatre, the Golden City Paddle Steamer and sailing on Lake Wendouree.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come together and know they are not alone. There are so many in similar circumstances,” Ms Gillespie said.
“It started small for our local families and now we have so many families from other clubs.”
Ballarat Legacy Club funds the camp and received support from Rotary Australia and the Bendigo Bank.