Chandana’s story

My name is Chandana. I am an affected family member of a gambler and Peer Connection volunteer.

Before we came to Australia, he never really gambled. Maybe only $50 at the casino sometimes and then we went home.

In Australia, we were in separate cities much of the time for work. So initially I didn’t know about the gambling. I was sometimes alone with a young child with no other support around.

So it happened quickly for us. He went from never really gambling at all to having quite big problems. I think there were other issues for him. Even right now I don’t know what they were.

When he finally revealed the gambling to me, I was thinking that I was struggling along with him to understand what was happening and to seek the right support.

But I guess we were going in opposite paths. Eventually I had to make the decision not to struggle together anymore.

The secrecy and lies are a big issue, the hurt that comes from that and the fact that it is so hard to build up trust. It often comes up with my callers and we talk about it.

Sometimes when I hear about a situation with one of my callers, I see a similarity with my own. I can say, this is what worked for me, it might not work for you but this worked for me. I always explain other options and what services there are that you can seek.

Another issue is that with these problems, the focus is always on the gambler. People are always saying what can we do for the gambler, what can we do to support the gambler and never about the others. I talk to my callers about that. They need support too. I’ve spoken to children, partners, mothers, all ages. Gambling can impact anyone.

Being a Peer Connection volunteer has been a huge support for me and it still is. And I know I am a support to other people. Apart from my ex-husband I had never had any connection to gambling like this.  So it has been wonderful to meet so many people and understand the issues.

I think the difficulty with counselling is that often people think they are going to go along and get a solution straight away. People sometimes think that this person is going to solve their problem but that isn’t the way.

Sometimes it can take months for people to work out that this is not what counselling is. That can be the difficulty at the beginning. Counselling is about preparing you to handle yourself whatever life might throw at you.