Put on your yellows this Friday, the brighter the better, and celebrate National aWEARness Day with Escabags in solidarity with survivors of domestic and family abuse in Australia.

This day –February 16th – is significant to the cause for two reasons: it recognises the day Stacy Jane founded her charity Escape Bags (or Escabags), as well as the anniversary of the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children by her estranged husband.

Marie Copp, who started out volunteering for the charity in its first 6 months and is now the Community Engagement Officer, said, “Across Australia, we have different organisations participating in the day and it’s all about celebrating the survivorship of domestic and family abuse.

“It’s a universal issue. Everybody knows someone that’s been affected by it. I had no experience with domestic or family violence but when I heard Stacy’s story I couldn’t look the other way.”

Escabags was founded in 2020 by Stacy Jane after her experience escaping domestic violence. While she believed it was important for survivors to have access to emotional support, she also understood firsthand the need to be able to access practical solutions in the most immediate stages of escape when survivors are at an elevated risk of violence.

Marie Copp with Jenni Eaton, proprietor of Eaton Cakes AU & Rainbow Crossing’s director Christerine Laul at an awareness morning at the Macarthur Women’s Coffee Club

Escabags aims to alleviate the immediate trauma of domestic abuse by providing free and effective access to escape bags in communities, whilst connecting victims with resources and agencies to continue their journey towards survivorship.

They offer two kinds of escape bags: single adult bags and parent and child bags. The charity has ensured the items offered are not gender-specific in order to cater to all victims of abuse.

Marie said, “Typically, a single adult bag would have shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, a comb, tissues, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a face cloth, soap, a notebook and pen and a sim card… if someone is being tracked they will need to change their phone number and need to be able to make an emergency phone call.

“In the parent and child bag we add a blanket or wrap, nappies, children’s toothpaste and toothbrush, nappies, a colouring book and pencils, or a child’s reading book.”

Volunteers hand-make the tote bags which are then sent to the main warehouse in Unanderra where they are filled with items and sent out weekly. At this stage, Escabags is sending out around 80 escape bags per week to various stockists around Australia.

Escabags firmly believe in the importance of a connected community, and the charity would not be where it is without the support of communities rallying around their cause.

At the Valentine’s Day event hosted by the Macarthur Women’s Coffee Club on Monday, Marie addressed the group about the upcoming aWEARness Day and the Escabags cause. She believes opportunities like this that utilise relationships within the community are critical to the growth of the charity.

“It was a fantastic morning… all the ladies are so great and it’s a great way to connect the community while educating them on our cause,” Marie said.

Escabags now have over 1600 stockists who ensure the escape bags are readily available for those in the community that may be fleeing a family or domestic violence situation.

The charity will celebrate its 4th anniversary next week. “It has just grown so much and demand for the bags has also kept on growing,” Marie said.

Looking for a way to support? Campbelltown Catholic Club is a local Escabags supporter and will be donating $1 from every coffee purchased on Friday to Escabags, as well as accepting contributions via donation boxes all day.

Alternatively, you can purchase a yellow ‘National aWEARness Day’ T-shirt from the Escabags website and all proceeds will be donated to Escabags.

Find out more here: https://escabags.org/

–  Emily Kaine

Marie Copp with Escabags founder/CEO Stacy Jane & the charity’s longtime supporter Sue-Lei Hunt-Mingay