For Allana Wagstaff, attending the Ballarat Legacy camp has given her and her two young daughters the chance to form relationships with other families who understand their struggle.
Ms Wagstaff’s partner took his own life three years ago after suffering depression. He was discharged from the army in Townsville due to psychological issues.
The family has attended the Ballarat Legacy camp each year since, with nine-year-old Emma and six-year-old Lilly enjoying the jam-packed schedule of fun family activities.
“It gives the girls and myself somewhere where we are able to interact with other families in similar situations,” Ms Wagstaff said.
“They build on their relationships every year and there are always new families. It is nice to see them grow up together and to know Legacy is there for the kids.”
It is hard on your own if you are in your late 20s or 30s with a couple of kids and your husband has died.Jeremy Bannister, Ballarat Legacy
Almost 30 children from 13 families impacted by war are preparing to enjoy day three of the four-day Ballarat Legacy camp.
The camp is open to families from around Australia with many travelling from as far as Sydney, Adelaide, Broken Hill, Albury and Mildura.
Ballarat Legacy volunteer Jeremy Bannister said the Ballarat event was the only Legacy camp in Australia that included young mothers as well as their children.
“What we underestimated with the very first family camp 10 years ago is how much the mums want to get together, whereas it had just been about the kids,” he said.
“It is hard on your own if you are in your late 20s or 30s with a couple of kids and your husband has died… This is a chance for them to get to know each other and build up networks.”
Ballarat Legacy president Allan McKinnon said many in the community did not realise the continued lasting impact of war.
“We had 42 people die in Afghanistan but we have at least 42 a year taking their own life,” he said.
“When I told people during a Legacy Week speech were 18 children in the care of Legacy in Ballarat they were shocked. That’s 18 children whose father’s are either dead or have severe post traumatic stress disorder.”
Ballarat Legacy is not government funded and relies on community support to run camps for families and support children in their care. The organisation’s major fundraising campaign is run during Legacy Week in August.
Mr Bannister said the camp was well supported by Ballarat organisations.
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