Standing Tall Against Abusive Relationships since 2012

STAAR FITNESS was established by Larissa Shaw in May 2012, and is the first of its kind, unlike any other program offered in Australia. It is a physical fitness program specifically designed to empower women and their children who have been, or currently are, affected by abusive relationships.

STAAR Fitness, established by Larissa Shaw in May 2012, is the first of its kind, unlike any other program offered in Australia.

STAAR and YOUNGSTAAR meet together regularly to provide joint fitness activities for mums and their children to rebuild the relationship and bonds.

Run by a local community committee, the STAAR programme empowers and enables members to build and nurture their physical and emotional wellbeing, safely away from any negative influences.

Classes include strength, conditioning and aerobic training sessions. Classes are run each Wednesday at 9:30am-10:30am and 5:30pm-6:30pm.

Our members discover:

  • Higher levels of confidence and self-awareness
  • Improved health, fitness and general well-being
  • Enjoyable and durable personal growth
  • Increased social contact and interaction
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Reduced the symptoms of general depression
  • Increased and more confident ability to deal with stressful situations
  • FUN, FUN, FUN!!!

STAAR Fitness aims to empower women by building physical strength, emotional resilience, self-esteem and confidence through physical exercise whilst providing a support network to families.

  • I am writing this letter in regards to the STAAR Program run by Larissa. I am relatively new to the group myself, but it has become a large part of my life in a short time.

    The STAAR Program is wonderful, and has been a HUGE thing for me. It not only gets me out and active, and testing/pushing myself, but I have made some amazing friends and it has increased my confidence greatly. Larissa is an amazing and strong woman and such a positive support and influence. Becoming a part of the STAAR group was one of the best decisions I have made. It has helped me to regain a positive outlook on my future, and gain some control back in my life too.

    I see myself being a part of the STAAR program for a long time to come and look forward to what the future holds for this group. I can see it becoming an amazing thing for many more women who have been through, or going through, Domestic Violence in the future too.

    STAAR offers so much support for women that you just cannot find anywhere else and is greatly needed within the community as Domestic Violence is everywhere and this program gives women strength to find themselves and their voices again, and improve their lives, not only for themselves but their children too.

    Name withheld for security
  • I started to attend the STAAR program around May 2013. In my time there I have met a lot of encouraging, inspiring women. Coming out of Domestic Violence, I felt ashamed and isolated. I felt embarrassed to tell people that I was a single mum, afraid they would ask why.

    Being put in a group with women who have been through similar situations showed me that I was not alone, nor was I to blame, which, for a long time, I believed I was. The hard physical workout is a great way to sweat out all the frustration. It empowers me. I feel stronger physically and emotionally.

    My son really enjoyed our mums vs kids soccer game. He talked about it for weeks and looked forward to ‘kicking my butt’ again. It was great bonding with my boy that way.

    I look forward to returning to the STAAR program. I see the program to be beneficial not only to the women who attend, but to the whole community. It would be fantastic to see the program grow throughout Australia. Domestic Violence is common but support for rebuilding courage, self worth and strength is rare.

    Name withheld for security
  • Dear Larissa, thank you for all you do to help the women in our community, you make a difference. Please keep up the great work and if there is ever anything I can do to help you please let me know.
    Jennie Breene - Councillor for Division 12
    Logan City Council
Founder | Director

Larissa Shaw & The History of STAAR

Larissa Shaw (Maid of Iron)
I still carry the scars of the abuse, some visible, some not so obvious. These scars are a reminder of who I was and how my strength and perseverance has empowered me to achieve my goals in helping other women and children to become survivors and not statistics.


  • Mother of 2 awesome boys
  • Queensland Police Jim O’Sullivan Award
  • Queensland Police Award For Excellence
  • Forde’s International Women’s Day 2016 Outstanding Woman Award
  • Queensland Police Officer – 9 Years
  • Certificate III and IV Fitness
  • Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor
  • Experience in training and fitness for 15 years
  • Represented Australia in Indoor Soccer

Larissa Shaw has an empathy for women and child victims of Domestic and Family Violence. She believes physical exercise can help heal wounds and change lives and has made a personal commitment to help other women and children to recover, rebuild and reinvent themselves. Larissa is a mother of two, fitness coach, a current serving Queensland Police Officer, the Founder of the STAAR and YOUNGSTAAR Programs and the President of the non-profit organisation Standing Tall Against Abusive Relationships (STAAR) INC. Larissa has dedicated her time in a volunteer capacity with these programs since 2012, which aim to build emotional resilience, self-esteem, self-confidence whilst educating and empowering those impacted.

Larissa is a survivor of domestic violence. From the age of 18 Larissa endured domestic violence over a 6 year period suffering emotional, mental and physical abuse from her former partners. She experienced the blame, denials, the apologies and the promises that it would never happen again. Without realising, Larissa had become caught up in the vicious cycle of domestic violence. Over the years, she experienced just about every form of domestic abuse and violence possible. Larissa’s dream of becoming a mother was very nearly shattered by a former partner. She is now a mother to two beautiful boys.

In 2001, Larissa somehow found the strength to stand tall to attempt to break free of the cycle. She joined the local gym and took up boxing classes, aerobics and weight training. She followed a physical fitness regime which allowed her to build her physical, emotional and mental strength. During this time, she educated herself, she recognised the signs of domestic violence and took steps to prevent being drawn back into the same type of relationship. Movement became her medicine and saviour.

During her 9 years as a police officer, Larissa has attended countless domestic violence incidents, even specialising in domestic violence within the service. From her own experience along with her exposure through being a police officer, it became apparent to Larissa that women and children needed extra support. In 2011, she developed the STAAR (Standing Tall Against Abusive Relationships) Program. The program officially commenced in May 2012, with the introduction of the YOUNGSTAAR program in 2014.

STAAR (Standing Tall Against Abusive Relationships) is the first physical fitness program in Australia, specifically designed to empower women who have been, or currently are affected by Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) or an abusive relationship. Their programs aim to build physical strength, emotional resilience and improve the self-esteem, self-confidence and general well-being of its participants through the use of physical fitness and supportive networks.

There are a number of services available to women victims of domestic and family violence within the community. These services often offer psychological, emotional and counselling services, allowing women and children to voice their emotions with a trained counsellor. While this is an important part of the healing process, the physical aspect is often overlooked as part of the recovery process. STAAR and YOUNGSTAAR provides women and children with another tool for dealing with their emotions, through physical exercise. Studies on the psychological effects have found that regular exercise and physical activity can improve mood and in turn reduce depression and anxiety, thereby allowing individuals to better manage stress and improve their coping abilities. STAAR and YOUNGSTAAR works on the concept “Movement is Medicine”.

STAAR and YOUNGSTAAR are unique programs and unlike any other offered in the domestic violence domain, which links those suffering domestic and family violence with police officers and outside organisations who work together to rebuild on self- confidence, self-esteem and to help build a positive, healthy outlook on life. Together, STAAR and YOUNGSTAAR are building stronger relationships and stronger communities.


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