Watch the full interview in Mandarin on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttxx9lGJFe8&t=1020s
SBS: On Monday this week, the federal government announced a voluntary self-exclusion service to reduce the harm caused by gambling. However, within the Chinese community, there are many gambling addicts who, due to cultural, language, and shame-related reasons, struggle to take the first step towards seeking help. Support organizations are calling for increased awareness of gambling addiction among the affected individuals, their families, and the entire community.
SBS: From betting on horse racing and sports to playing baccarat at casinos, Paul, who was introduced to gambling during his student days, lost his youth and a substantial amount of money to gambling.
Paul: At the beginning, I gambled once or twice a week. After turning 18, I went to gamble four to five times a week. Every morning, when I wake up, I think about this issue.
SBS: Although Paul realized the severity of his gambling addiction in his early twenties, he hesitated to seek help.
Paul: I didn't want others to know that it was very tough and challenging for me, gambling affected my life. If I had spoken up earlier and sought help, I believe it would have made a significant impact on my life. I could have spent those ten years doing other things.
SBS: Jolie, the acting nurse manager at Turning Point, the addiction treatment, training, and research organisation, stated that there is a general negative impression of gambling among the public. This causes some gamblers to be reluctant to discuss their problems and prevents them from seeking timely assistance.
Jolie: Some people may not recognize or understand that gambling addiction is like any other disease that can be treated, and you need help.
SBS: This phenomenon is even more common within the Chinese community.
Jolie: The education we receive is different, for example, with religious concepts involved. As a result, the acceptance of this issue is not as widespread, making it more prevalent.
SBS: Furthermore, national gambling helplines mostly require using English, making it even more challenging for Chinese gamblers to seek help.
Jolie: You have to call first, and some helplines require having interpreters. It's challenging to express your thoughts and experiences directly, which is a significant obstacle.
SBS: The Chinese Peer Connection for Gambling Help, established in Melbourne in 2009, aims to minimise the shame felt by Chinese gamblers by offering telephone consultations and assistance from people with personal experience.
Grace: The helpline at the Chinese Peer Connection is answered or made by people with similar experience, such as former gamblers themselves or their family members or friends who have dealt with gambling issues in the past.
SBS: Johnson, who once suffered greatly from gambling, is about to start volunteering at the Chinese Peer Connection. He started gambling when he was young, wanting to make quick money, and ended up losing over a million Australian dollars on slot machines within a year.
Johnson: We Chinese say it's called "greedy thoughts." When you have these thoughts, you think making money is so easy. When I was young, my thought went wrong.
Now, Johnson has successfully quit gambling and hopes to use his own experience to help others.
Johnson: Now that I'm older, I hope to help others understand a bit.
Besides the individual's effort, understanding and support from family and friends are also crucial.
Jolie: Often, they don't understand and may think, "Why don't you just stop gambling? Why can't you stop doing this?"
Grace: The family and friends of gamblers don't realize that they can become a strong force in reducing gambling harm. They should also seek help or learn how to assist their loved ones and friends.
SBS: Grace also urges not to wait until debts pile up to realize the severity of the problem. If gambling disrupts daily life, it is essential to be cautious.
Grace: For example, if it affects your studies, work, and sleep, and you have less time for family and friends, and you're constantly thinking about gambling, that's when you need to pay attention.
SBS: Recovered gamblers also encourage current gamblers to seek help bravely and break free from the dark cloud of gambling as early as possible.
Paul: The first step is to share, to talk to others, have a conversation, and say you're facing some difficulties, then you can seek help.
Johnson: Whether you have a lot of money or not, what matters most is that you can sustain yourself, and make those around you happy, and have your children safe and happy, then you'll be content.
If you or anyone you know are experiencing gambling harm, visit Gambling Help Online: https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/