Tara in her own words:
“I don’t really think of myself as tough. I’ve always loved adventures. I did my first expedition when I was 18 and it ignited a passion. I am now a firefighter. I’ve represented Australia in my slightly crazy sport of surf boat rowing at the age of 47 and I cycled 5000 km’s unsupported across Australia in 2021, yet I often think that the toughest challenges of my life have not been physical.
Rather it has been the journey to heal the relationship with myself after a traumatic childhood that has been the toughest challenge I have undertaken.
Writing my book ‘Standing on my Brothers Shoulders – making peace with grief and suicide’ was a huge part of that journey. It challenged me in every way possible but was also one of my greatest teachers and proudest achievements.
Although I am a physiotherapist and firefighter, my book led me to work in the field of mental health and wellbeing. I am now nearing the end of a PhD exploring the impact of suicide on firefighters.
In 2017, I was a finalist in the Rotary Inspirational woman of the year awards and in January 2022, as part of the Australia Day Honours, I was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM), which recognises distinguished service by an Australian Fire Service member for my work supporting suicide prevention and mental health of firefighters.
I think life is an adventure and it can take many forms!”
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Listen to Tara Now!
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Who is Tara
Her different jobs and interests
Moving to Sydney in the mid 1990s
Having a thirst for adventures
Deciding to join Fire & Rescue in 2005
Going on her own healing journey
Losing her mother to cancer at 13
Losing her brother to suicide at 17
Struggling to deal with the loss
Writing her life story down
Moving into the mental health space
In 2018 starting her PHD looking at the impact of suicide on firefighters
Making the decision to move to Australia
What it was like joining the fire service 17 years ago
Having mixed memories and feeling the need to prove herself to the men
Starting her healing journey in her early 30s and what it looked like
Starting to have compassion for herself
How the outdoors have helped with her recovery
Going on an expedition to Zimbabwe in 1989 and how everything changed
Realising that she could be happy again
Deciding to cycle across Australia
Cycling with Sarah Davis
Cycling from the most Western point of Australia over to Byron Bay the most easterly point.
Being head of communication for the expedition
The challenges of cycling on the roads with the road-trains