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A new outlook on life

31 January 2022

A new outlook on life

Jenna* and Gavin* rebuild their lives after assistance from the Salvos Gambler’s Help 

Jenna and Gavin are two clients The Salvation Army Gambler’s Help service have supported in 2021 (see article here). Below are their stories.


Gavin has had a successful professional career and is now in retirement. He has hidden his sexual identity as a gay man from his family and friends all his life and has relied on gambling to escape his feelings of shame. Unfortunately, Gavin has accrued many debts with his loved ones as a result of his gambling. During lockdown, he was unable to gamble at the pokies, and decided he wanted to overcome his unhealthy gambling habits, repay his debt, and find community where he feels accepted. 

“[I want] to feel part of the community without feeling the shame,” he says. 

Gambler’s Help enabled Gavin to create a budget and a sustainable payment plan so he could pay off his debts to family and friends. Due to this, he had no savings left and, coupled with his social isolation, struggled with his mental health. Gambler’s Help connected him with a therapeutic counsellor, who worked with him to find networking solutions so he could identify and accept his sexuality. This led him to a support group that will help him engage and build on social connections within the local LGBTQIA+ community. Gavin already has a more positive outlook on life and is feeling more comfortable with his sexuality. 


For seven years, Jenna was in a long-term relationship with a partner who gambled regularly on sports betting apps. He took out personal loans in Jenna’s name, and didn’t repay them. When the couple broke up, Jenna was stalked and experienced violence. As a result, she moved to a new house and changed her contact number. Her ex-partner later passed away due to substance abuse, leaving Jenna responsible for loan repayments while she grappled with depression and anxiety. She quickly fell behind on the repayments, despite working full-time. 

“The impact of the relationship left me feeling manipulated, with broken promises and broken trust,” she says. 

Jenna approached Gambler’s Help, who arranged a three-month moratorium on her personal loan with no extra charges, giving her time to make a plan. With the help of a financial counsellor, she then requested debt waivers under the Family Violence Scheme. Jenna still works to pay off some of this debt and is under some financial distress. However, she now has a budget, and periodically works closely with a financial counsellor. Today Jenna’s mental health is greatly improved, and she is starting a new chapter in her life. 

Call Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858.

For more information on the Melbourne Counselling Service, visit 

*Names have been changed. 


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