22 October 2019
The Alliance for Gambling Reform congratulates long-time volunteer and now staff member, Anna Bardsley, for receiving Healthy and Active Living Award at the 2019 Victorian Senior of the Year Awards from the Governor of Victoria at Government House today.
Ms Bardsley was recognised with the award for her tireless work in sharing her story of gambling harm, and supporting others in sharing theirs, through the Three Sides of the Coin theatre performances and the Re-Spin speakers bureau.
Ms Bardsley lost 10 years of her life to a poker machine addiction and has generously shared this story time and again to help raise awareness of gambling harm, and in the hope of preventing it from happening to others, or helping others know they are not alone.
“While I am the person this award was given to, I accepted it in the knowledge that there are thousands of others out there who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, gambling harm,” Ms Bardsley said.
“I’m especially glad the award I received is for Healthy and Active Living. This recognises the link between gambling harm and the impact it has on health, both mental and physical, and the fact that gambling harm is a public health issue.
“There is so much shame and stigma associated with gambling harm, and the gambling industry is the real beneficiary of that. They want people to keep secrets about their losses because people experiencing the worst gambling harm are their best customers.
“The gambling industry plays many dirty tricks on people to fleece them of their hard-earned incomes. One of the worst tricks they play is designing poker machines to be deliberately addictive, exploiting psychological research and manipulating the gambler via so called features and losses disguised as wins.
“When I learned about the amount of research and deception involved in poker machine design I was appalled. The gambling industry speak of ‘responsible gambling’ all the time, yet the responsibility for addicting people lies with the industry and their dreadful tactics.”
Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, Rev Tim Costello, said he had great admiration for Ms Bardsley and the work she does in fighting for gambling reform.
“People like Anna are why we are so dedicated to seeing reform to the gambling industry both in Victoria and around Australia,” Rev Costello said. “The way the gambling industry behaves in deliberately harming people to profit from their human vulnerability is frankly disgusting and immoral and she highlights this.
“Anna is tireless in her commitment to speaking truth to power and exposing this industry for the nasty nature it has. This work takes a lot out of her, yet she never fails to put her heart and soul into it.
“I once had the honour of witnessing her true courage in telling her story to the Crown Casino board, making sure James Packer knew exactly what damage his company does to people. Anna was so eloquent and convincing, and it is this sort of action from her that helps others to speak up.
“We congratulate Anna on this special award and recognition of her dedication and care for others.”
Ms Anna Bardsley, 70 – Healthy and Active Living Award winner
Nominated by Link Health and Community
Ms Bardsley transformed her personal struggles with gambling addiction to a very strong caring and advocacy role in the community. Volunteering as a participant and leader in the Three Sides of the Coin project, as a Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Lived Experience Committee member, and as a speaker and trainer for the ReSpin Speakers Bureau, Ms Bardsley has used her art to bravely tell her stories for “the greater purpose of creating awareness and giving back to the community”. Her referees are the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Artangel Documentaries, staff and volunteer colleagues and people whom she has supported.