Asking for help is often the hardest part, says GambleAware team

“For many people, gambling is fun, entertaining and causes no harm. However, for some people, gambling can become a problem.”

In just 12 months, GambleAware Hunter New England has helped more than 270 local people.

Delivered by CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning in partnership with Centacare New England, the service provides support to people who are affected by gambling.

Team Leader Stephen Dooker says anyone is welcome to access GambleAware  programs.

“Most people gamble at one time or another. It may be on poker machines, at the TAB, online betting or on lotteries,” he said.

“For many people, gambling is fun, entertaining and causes no harm. However, for some people, gambling can become a problem.”

He adds the skilled team offer several services to help people move forward with their lives. Their varied backgrounds and experience allow them to work together to find the best support for those accessing the service.

“GambleAware offers face-to-face or telehealth counselling and can provide specialised support services for anyone struggling with gambling harm,” Stephen said.

“Gambling can be harmful for the person who gambles, their family and their friends. Our services are there to support everyone affected.

“Financial counselling is available if there are monetary challenges due to gambling. If anyone isn’t sure about counselling, we offer a care-coordination pathway to offer support such as self-exclusion and self-help resources.

“We also provide support for family and friends on what actions they could take if they are worried about a loved one.”

According to the GambleAware team, one of the hardest steps istaking that first step to reach out for help, but they encourage everyone to seek support if they need it.

“Just talk to us, making a phone call is  all you need to do for us to help you,” Stephen said.

“There is quite often a level of shame involved with people struggling with gambling harm, so for them to take the first step is the most critical part of their journey. After that, it gets easier.”

Community Engagement and Care Coordinator Tammy Gribbin adds family and friends of the individual struggling can also access help.

“We would encourage the family member or friend to contact us if they need assistance because we can support them too,” she said.

“We can help them develop strategies to talk about the subject and make a plan together about what they can do to help the person.”

Both Stephen and Tammy feel lucky to help the community.

“Seeing these people develop or create an understanding of what’s going on for them, and then helping them move forward and start to achieve their goals is a very nice feeling,” Tammy said.

“I think meeting people who are willing to make a change and seeing that same person who was really struggling start to thrive is pretty amazing. It’s times like that, you remember why we are doing it,” Stephen added.

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