12 Nov 2012

Families defend Sensible Sentencing Trust

10:02 am on 12 November 2012

The mothers of two teenage girls who died violent deaths are standing by the work of the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

The trust has come under fire from critics who say it takes advantage of victims' families to lobby for its own cause.

Tracey Marceau's daughter Christie was killed on 7 November last year, while Rebecca Templeman's daughter Liberty was murdered in 2008 ago the same same week.

When spokesperson Garth McVicar of the Sensible Sentencing Trust introduced the women they also found that their daughters shared the same birthdate.

Both say their families have formed a very close bond through their shared experience and

on Sunday night, Mrs Marceau's family launched the Christie Marceau Charitable Trust.

Mrs Marceau says the Sensible Sentencing Trust never approached her and she went to it a month after her daughter was fatally stabbed because she wanted to do something about the way she died.

Mrs Marceau said she could not have survived her daughter's killing without the support of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, and she and her family don't have a negative thing to say about it and Garth Vicar.

"To be honest, I don't think if we hadn't have had that support, I doubt that I'd actually still be here today - and I'm quite open about that. I've had a lot of times when I've been really close to that and Garth has been there for me 100 percent of the way. He's never pushed himself, the trust, nothing."

Mrs Marceau says her family approached the trust themselves because they wanted to do something about Christie's needless death.

However, Kim Workman of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, believes the trust exploits victims early on in their grief and anger - and by reliving each other's horror stories, they end up trapped and unable to move on.

"They haven't worked through that anger, and by exploiting that at that early stage it often traps them in their own anger so that years and years afterwards, they're still in the same place."

Mr Workman says families may find support in sharing their stories, but it is not the professional help they need to move on and heal.

But Garth McVicar says he has seen the benefits the trust can bring and in the 12 months after their daughter died, Tracey and Brian Marceau have a purpose in life.

"Out of the families we've seen Tracey and Brian just 12 months down the track, how being able to focus on a project and us giving them projects to focus on, it gives them a purpose to live for.

Mr McVicar says all the families they work with approach the trust - not the other way round - because the justice system has failed them and they want help to change that.