Page 3266 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022

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I would like to thank our vet clinic at Fadden for their care of Kenny and their care of Peter and me when the end came. The day before, we decided to go for a walk and, for the first time ever, decided to leave Kenny at home because he just did not seem happy. After a really rough night, we rang the vet, and I held Kenny and talked to him through to the end. Dogs love us unconditionally and Kenny was such a loyal, fun and faithful friend.

We miss you, Kenny, and we will always remember you.

Gambling Harm Awareness Week

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (6.00): This week is Gambling Harm Awareness Week in the ACT. This morning, I attended the Gambling Harm Awareness Week breakfast at the Vikings club. It was good to hear of the Vikings’ new initiative to further train employees and launch an in-venue program aimed at reducing stigma associated with seeking support for gambling harm. I was very grateful to hear Markus Fischer tell his powerful story of lived experience of gambling harm.

I see a major part of my role in the Assembly as amplifying in the chamber people’s voices in our community. One such story that I would like to tell today is that of Harry, whose mother has written to me in distress at the impacts of online sports gambling and the impacts it has had on her son and her family. She wrote:

Our son, Harry, started online gambling six years ago, at the age of 19. We had no idea that he was gambling. It was hidden by what we considered typical behaviour of a young person being attached to their phone. The truth came out after an ultimatum from his girlfriend that he needed to tell us. He was scared, embarrassed and frightened to tell us, and we are his parents. We, as his parents, felt gutted, angry, devastated and frightened for his future and that of his relationship.

We also felt embarrassed that Harry had lied to us so many times over the years, saying that tools had been stolen when, in fact, he had sold them to get more money to gamble, and we had of course paid for new ones. He would also tell us that his boss had not paid him that week, so we would give him money, which of course went on gambling. Being in the building industry, we believed that at times not being paid immediately was commonplace.

As time went on, we felt ridiculously gullible and the trust that we had in our son was shattered, and who could we turn to? We felt embarrassed at how easily our son manipulated us. Our relationship is strained due to this lack of trust, and we feel helpless. He is, in turn, embarrassed and distraught that his relationships with those who he loves so dearly have been compromised.

We arranged for Harry to go to a private rehabilitation centre in Sydney last December, but it was not tailored to gamblers and, sadly, despite having high hopes that there would be strategies that he could put in place, Harry came home with more ways to con us. The saddest part of Harry being in rehab for all of us was the sense of relief we felt by his absence from the home. We did not have to put up with the lies or the mood swings, and we could all breath out for three weeks.

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