My name is Dana and I am a recovered gambler. I am proud to say I share my story in public through ReSPIN (a Gambling Awareness Speakers Bureau) and Humans in Geelong as it is now a valuable tool for the community and professionals to understand the harm that Poker machines can cause to innocent lives! Please share.
Here is a brief summary of my life.
I was born during the Second World War in Europe, my family was shifted between various displaced persons camps in Germany for over 5 years, until offers came for overseas migration. Through the mayhem of war, we were considered refugees living in the camps. The men gambled Poker, as there was nothing much else for them to do. As a child I cleaned their ash trays which was a nice treat – and I also learnt how to play poker simultaneously!
I migrated with my mother and sister to Western Australia by ship but later realised there wasn’t much choice for female labour there, so we moved to Victoria. I was very young, my mother and elder sister worked odd jobs, and we stayed in camps. My uncle was a huge help to us, all three worked hard and eventually bought a shack in Richmond together which finally was home.
Life passed, years passed… School, marriage, moving to Geelong, I managed a curtain and dress factory, had 3 children, divorce, moved back to Melbourne to study Fine arts – all without a hint of gambling!
20 years ago, I moved back to Geelong where I designed my current house. I had been working as a Dress Designer all along and was very passionate about my painting. But I had left all my friends back in Melbourne and was quite isolated. My daughter took me to Pokies venue. Because of the music, the people, the atmosphere and the excitement, it made my worries and physical pain disappear for a while. But after many journeys to the venues, I had gambled away all my reserves, became even more depressed and my physical pains multiplied.
Finally, after about 15 years of gambling, I called LifeLine which referred me to Bethany, who linked me to a fantastic Financial and Gamblers Help Counsellor. It was hard work but Bethany was very helpful and supportive. I gained insight, self-awareness and started understanding my triggers to gamble.
We formed the Bright Futures support group which comprised of recovering gamblers like myself. We had excursions, fun activities and with Bethany’s help, even compiled the “Living the experience – stories of help”, which detailed the experience of the group.
Now my bills are paid through Centrelink and some of the time I can afford to eat meat. I have money to pay for my new tyres and for some help weeding the garden.
Within a 5-minute driving radius from my house, there are 6 Poker venues, I cannot travel anywhere without passing one. The Government and venues are laughing all the way to the bank while an addicted gambler like myself goes home with empty pockets. My ask is simple – less venues, less poker machines, less horse racing and less sports-betting, and no advertising on any form of gambling.
This is a try story sourced by Jacqui Bennett. A stock photo has been used and the name has changed for confidentiality.