OUR PEOPLE

CORE GROUP

We have decided to use first names only on this site and in our videos because most preferred that and in solidarity with the tens of thousands of people who, because of the stigma associated with gambling addiction, cannot speak out.

ANNA 

Retired businesswoman, grandmother, writer, performer, singer, original member of the group and recipient of a 2019 Victorian Senior of the Year Award for her tireless advocacy to prevent gambling harm.

Anna lost more than ten years of her life to the pokies. She tells her emotional story in an empowering and uplifting way, speaking honestly about the shame of being a gambler and the struggle of recovery.

Anna has numerous media and speaking credits including the ABC production ‘You Can’t Ask That’.

Read more about Anna here 

CAROLYN

A gambling addiction led Carolyn to prison, she shares her story to show others that she has survived one of the worst times in her life. She is grateful for the support of her sons, grandchildren and long term friends during her journey of recovery.

Now a strong advocate for change, Carolyn has been featured in the media, in print, on radio and TV.

Her story shocks people and shows that a gambling addiction can happen to anyone.

Read more about Carolyn here

CHANDANA 

Coming from a non-gambling culture, Chandana endured many hurdles upon her arrival in Australia – settlement difficulties, parenting a toddler, and her husband’s battle with alcohol and gambling. Her friendship circle didn’t understand, instead she was blamed for all the problems, and left isolated and insecure. It became worse at home with constant lies, escalation of violence and ultimately seeking help from law enforcement. After years of healing, she gained the courage and determination to share her story in public.

Chandana hopes her story will inspire others to seek help and speak up about the harms of gambling.

Read more about Chandana here 

KEN 

Ken worked as a police officer and public servant. His journey into gambling addiction included time in prison. He has turned his life around from lies to truth, self-centredness to empathy, isolation to inclusiveness. He now has two diplomas in counselling and is an active and loving grandfather.

Read more about Ken here 

LOUISE 

A long-standing member of the project, Louise was very surprised that later in life, after never gambling prior, she found herself addicted to a toxic product, a poker machine that sabotaged her life.

Through much internal work and processing, Louise is in recovery and not looking back!

She has recently completed her studies to be a drug and alcohol worker.

MAX 

Max was introduced to gambling as a child. After 30 years gambling on TABs, trots, dogs, pokies, casinos, racing his own greyhounds and pacers and working as a croupier, Max eventually joined Gamblers Anonymous (GA). He has attended at least one meeting every week since 1997.

Today Max replaces gambling with TAFE courses, volunteer work in aged care, sports clubs and helping gamblers recover.

PAUL 

Recovering from a long history of gambling and drug use, Paul now shares his experience to assist others in understanding the complexities of gambling addiction. He speaks about seeking the reasons why he gambled, his journey of finding his own identity and about connection as a key component of moving away from gambling.

Paul has appeared in the ABC production ‘You Can’t Ask That’, and on numerous other media platforms.

Read more about Paul here 

SUNENNA 

A survivor of gambling harm after her life was turned upside-down by her partner’s gambling addiction, Sunenna shares her lived experience through performance art. In her book, The Journey of a Gambler’s Wife, she tells her tale of struggle to freedom. Through speaking engagements and interviews, she uses her voice to say – there is a way out.

Read more about Sunenna here 

CREATIVE TEAM

Catherine Simmonds OAM

Artistic Director 

For three decades Catherine has provided people with a creative space in which to ‘discover the need to speak and speak the unspoken’. Catherine’s focus is the space between the ‘lived experiences’ of communities and the language of art.

Catherine leads the creative process that enables participants to embody and transform their experiences of shame and hurt into powerful acts of performance.

More info on www.actinconnection.com

Judy Avisar

Project Coordinator, Link Health and Community

Judy is the backbone of this initiative, and has cradled the project from its infancy in 2012 with Arnold Zable’s story-telling workshops and various theatre forms, to the vibrancy of what it is today.

Irene Metter

Filmmaker & Graphic designer

Collaborating with Three Sides of the Coin since 2013, Irene has been documenting and creating films that capture the essence of the workshops, the performances and aspects of personal growth and empowerment.

Irene worked with Catherine for 18 months capturing the spoken word stories of the core group and editing them into short poetic videos for The Recovery Gamble.