Video transcript: Three sides of the coin

[Information displays] To become a fully contributing human being in a civil society is to live with insight, love and connection. A Link Health and Community Initiative, logo.

[Female actor] You’ve got a tough life. Come here, I’ve got something that will help. Because I went there to escape.  And I did. It worked. It was perfect for me. It’s a product that’s designed to zone you out and take you to another place. And take over your brain so that you don’t have to think. And it worked perfectly until the solution became a bigger problem than the problem.

[Female actor] I’m a nurse and I work nights.

[Female actor] It’s only one o’clock in the morning, I’m not ready to go home, I’ll put in more.

[Female actor] $50. What? It’s gone? What are you looking at for goodness sake? Driving my luck away.

[Female actor] We were just talking sitting in front of the TV and he started crying and said that he didn’t have any money left in his account. I was actually alone with a child and nobody else around me. Even the relatives that I thought were there won’t talk to me anymore.

[Text displays] Three sides of the coin. Australians lost $21.5 billion to gambling in 2014. Australian governments received nearly $6 billion from gambling taxation in 2014. Australia has the highest rate of gambling in the world per capita. Gambling has become an urgent public health issue. It’s time to make some noise.

[Female sings] Let me entertain you, let me see you smile. And if you’re real good, I’ll make you feel good. I’m very versatile. Let me entertain you, and we’ll have a real good time, oh yes sir, we’ll have a real good time.

[Female actor] $350 worth of TAB tickets in your car.

[Male actor] They’re not mine.

[Female actor] You said we didn’t have any money.

[Male actor shouting] They’re not mine. Neil got in my car. They’re his tickets they’re not mine. I cop it every day, they’re using the police force, sending me mental. If I want to have a bet, I’ll have a bet.

Chapter 1: The workshops

[Catherine Simmonds, Community theatre director] ‘Three sides of the coin’ is essentially about creating scenes around gambling with people who are recovering from gambling and those who’ve been affected by gambling. And we take those scenes out in to the wider community to stimulate the conversation.

[Male actor] Step off woman, step off.

[Female actor] What happened to you? What happened to you? What has become of you?

[Female actor] You’re under arrest.

[Male actor] Oh nice. Run away, just run away.

[Female actor] Empty your pockets.

[Female actor] $134,000 in bribes.

[Male actor] Just tell the, tell them, get it off, get it off, stand up. I did, I took the money, I took the money.

[Female actor] Thanks for your honesty.

[Male actor] On the 11th of November 2011 I went to jail.

[Catherine Simmonds] The people in the scenes are not actors. They’re people who’ve been affected by gambling.

[Male actor] My brother’s away on a business trip in Singapore. He left everything with me. He trusted me with everything. Mortgage under my name, credit card under my name, first home loaner’s grant under my name. So much money what do I do? I’ll just have a small bit. $500 that won’t hurt.

[Catherine Simmonds] A facilitator space, sharing of stories, putting it in the body, bringing through the voice, asking questions. People break off into small groups. They work out scenes, they improvise and they build the confidence of self-expression.

[Male actor] I sat there, on the ledge. There’s nothing left for me here.

[Male actor] I did lose the house, I did affect her daughter’s life, I did affect her grandchildren’s life and I did affect her own retirement.

[Direction] So maybe you pick up whatever it is that she throws.

[Female actor] Because of you, I, at my age, I have to work when I should be retired.

[Female actor] Stupid loser.

[Catherine Simmonds] People don’t come into the space completely lucid. Why do I want to say that? Why do I want to be in this space? Why people want to share the story emerges, and it emerges from the dynamic of people sharing their stories. They discover a collective narrative, they discover a collective need to speak, they discover a collective power.

[Female actor] You took my money didn’t you? You took my money didn’t you?

[Catherine Simmonds] One of the participants said very eloquently ‘giving up gambling, of course it’s incredibly hard but at a certain point, it’s the easier part. It’s actually when you choose to face yourself and not to numb all the feelings with gambling, that’s the hard part.

[Male actor] Don’t look at me. Did everything I could just to be here today. Stop looking.

[Female actor] You can’t survive in the real world with your skin off. And when you look at this stuff it’s like you take your skin off.

[Female actor] It does help to go in there and people are very supportive and they are like oh are you alright I can see you’re going through a hard time.

[Male actor] We’ve managed a way to work together rather than I don’t like you or you and I’m just not going to participate.

[Female actor] My life has hit me with a pile of shit and I’ve never given up.

[Male actor] I’m not saying you’re going to give up or you’ve given up.

[Female actor] When you say this stuff it makes me want to say what’s the point.

[Male actor] We’ve found ways to really develop a great foundation to build something.

[Female actor] It’s the thread that goes through us all, we’re all in this together.

[Male actor] And that really strong empathy and compassion.

[Catherine Simmonds] I think it’s fundamentally about courage and really going beyond fear and firstly it’s the fear of the self, the fear to feel. And gambling is about trying to numb what you feel where the workshops are absolutely the opposite.

[Male actor] There was no one worse than me and the negative thoughts once you start thinking about the negative thoughts the negative thoughts hang on. And of course in the end I was nothing but negative thoughts. Suicide was always up my sleeve.

[Male actor] Yes I do have a bet but I haven’t got a problem, nah I haven’t got a problem drinking sir no, no, no, don’t you worry about that sir I am on top of everything.

[Catherine Simmonds] There’s a great power in being witnessed. You’re actually being witnessed for your own experience which is the antithesis of shame.

[Female actor] Shame shuts you down, keeps you dumb, keeps you numb, brings you back again and again and again.

[Male actor] I think doing it as a play has really brought it to life. When we’re rehearsing I was crying and I was worried when I did it last week that I would cry but I didn’t. And he’s off, working in a garage with men three times his age. And all his friends are gone. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

[Catherine Simmonds] When they go out into the wider community and an audience cries, laughs, acknowledges the potency of what they’ve just witnessed, they’ve witnessed the truth.

[Male actor] Dear Jenny and the kids, I have been in jail for three months now and I still have 17 months of this hell to go. I don’t know how and if I could ever build the bridge to redeem myself. I think you would be far better off without me.

[Female actor] I got your letter and I’ve got to tell you Jim, it’s not just about you. You promised me Jim. Remember your promise to me? What did you promise me?

[Male actor] Strength and courage.

[Female actor] Strength and courage, this isn’t strength and courage. It’s not just about you, the kids need you, I need you.

[Male actor] That’s true.

[Female actor] Yes this is a shitty hole of a place to be in but it’s not going to last.

[Catherine Simmonds] What our work brings is the lived experience, the power of that, the courage of that, everybody feels it.

[Male audience member] That despair that was in the first scene, I related 100 per cent.

[Female audience member] Thank God I’m not the only one that’s been through that turmoil, that darkness, that despair.

[Male audience member] Moments like today help me to reconnect from up here [taps head] down to my heart, that’s the way I felt.

[Catherine Simmonds] We all feel more human after watching and being involved and that is the fundamental function of this work.

Chapter 2: Vietnamese community

[Sign] Springvale Indochinese Mutual Assistance Association

[Catherine Simmonds] Going in to the Vietnamese group, when I first went there Bic had said to me ‘oh I don’t think that our community are really ready to talk about gambling but come in and you can play a few games.

[Bic Gresty, Springvale Indochinese Mutual Assistance Association counsellor] I always believe that when people are addicted to gambling it is very difficult for them to deal with. They don’t understand and then if they don’t have real support and in the same journey with them they will drop out.

[Catherine Simmonds] You’ve got a lot in your hands but I can help to shape the stories better. So then we can say ok there we go we’ve got three scenes. We go into the community then we start the conversation in the wider community.

[Female actor speaking in Vietnamese] We haven’t even finished rehearsing yet and we’re already booked to perform.

[All laugh]

[Catherine Simmonds] They urgently started to own the space. Mothers, grandmothers, daughters, nieces, aunts, brothers, community members who have felt the impact of gambling.

[Female actor speaking in Vietnamese] I’m scared my son will come home for money. He might be influenced to borrow at high interest so he can’t repay them. They might make him sell drugs, or anything that he is able to do. I’m so scared that if he isn’t home at night, I can’t sleep.

[Male actor speaking in Vietnamese] There are loan sharks coming tomorrow to collect their money – I need to have money. Ma, ma, you have to help me, no one else can help me.

[Catherine Simmonds] What your feeling is - I know you’ve had to do it a few times. I remember you coming in you were so disappointed because you suspect she’s back at the pokies correct?

[Female actor speaking in Vietnamese] When will you wake up, Mom? My mom in the past taught me to do right things.

[Catherine Simmonds] Good on you when you’re true, I don’t have to direct anything.

[Female actor speaking in Vietnamese] Mother you gave birth to me. You sang lullabies for me to sleep peacefully, you loved me dearly. You had hopes and dreams for me and prayed I would be safe.

[Catherine Simmonds] Today the table is turned because today the scene is in Vietnamese and for English speakers we will have a very brief translation.

[Female actor speaking in Vietnamese] [Family is immigration to Australia] Hello. What? Next week? And your family will go for a health check? I’m so happy. Oh Saigon, is so beautiful, beautiful, oh Saigon, Saigon. The sky is beautiful and full of poetry [pre 1975 folk song] One year later, Oh the TV – the TV is gone. I just put the laptop there and now it’s gone. I don’t know what he [grandson] will take next.

[Sean O’Reilly Mayor, Greater Dandenong] I can say personally, some of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen.

[Female actor sings in Vietnamese] Mom I lost you as I lost my warm soul. Now I feel the pain of an orphan. Where is my lovely mom? Where is my lovely mom?

[Female actor speaking in Vietnamese] I don’t want to lose my family. I don’t want my children to be ashamed of me. Who has a mother gambling like me?

[Catherine Simmonds] Due to a number of stories that were coming up in the Vietnamese community, particularly around loan sharks and the real desperation in the community of what to do and the fears that are there. And we started to talk about the police.

[Male actor speaking in Vietnamese] No, no, impossible. Why? Why? Mom give it to me. Mom, Mom, why have I ended up in this mess?

[Catherine Simmonds] And actually the police came to the group to actually watch one of the performances which was an incredible opportunity to open a dialogue between the community and the police and to identify the gaps. Where is there a distrust? What do we not know? What can we learn from each other?

[Male police officer] From our perspective the illegal part of it is the threats, the intimidation, the harassment.

[Female police officer] We should do more sessions with the Vietnamese community to educate them more about what they can and can’t do. They need to know where to go when it comes to police or when we can’t do anything.

[Catherine Simmonds] There’s a lot to discuss and it may only be the beginning. So in essence the project has worked in many different spaces. We didn’t predict that we’d be called upon to connect and work within so many other different communities.

Chapter 3: In community

[Female community event organiser] I’d like to introduce ‘Three Sides of the Coin’ from Link Health and Community.

[Male actor] I don’t have a problem, I’ve just got no money. [In Vietnamese language] Oh my God where is she? Have you seen our young daughter? We left her in the casino restaurant. She was sitting just there.

[Male actor speaking in Vietnamese] Hey, hey that’s my lucky chair. Why are you sitting on it?

[Female actor speaking in Vietnamese] Why are you always like that? Why don’t you help me so I can get ready on time?

[Female audience member] It’s a great deal of help because that’s when we get exposed and able to open our heart and able to talk about it which a lot of people may not know where to go.

[Female actor] I’ve been playing the pokies for a long time, nobody knows.

[Text displays] Arabic, Turkish and Greek bilingual workers

[Catherine Simmonds] Another very spontaneous group that appeared in this project were community educators, they’re bilingual workers who work with the leaders of various community groups, for example the Macedonian, the Greek, the Arabic community group.

[Female community educator] Everyday it’s lonely and the closest thing is the pokies. It’s just around the corner.

[Female community educator] He hits me and I can’t cope with him anymore. I can’t cope by myself, I need help from someone who knows about this.

[Catherine Simmonds] It becomes increasingly important and urgent to educate communities around the dangers of gambling and encouraging communities to remember their power, their culture, the games that they can play.

[Female audience member] I am the president of the Turkish club and they always complain to me, ‘Why don’t you take us for lunch?’ I said, ‘We’ll take you just for lunch, no gambling.’ What do they do? They eat quick, quick and then running!

[Female counsellor] Why should you come to a country with a lot of hopes and expectations and then your life crumbles. I’m talking at forums and even running programs and organising events and things like that, which I would never have thought I was capable of doing.

[Catherine Simmonds] To bring change into that space and start to share it with others, is an incredible act of courage. And that is true advocacy.

Chapter 4: Being Advocates

[Female actor] That tray is my life. It brings it back every time but it’s still worth doing to change something because I believe that there are other people out there who can’t speak. People who carry such a burden of shame because Louise says it, she’d rather tell people she has a drinking problem than tell them she’s a gambler.

[Female actor] Madam.

[Female actor] Yes.

[Female actor] Let’s talk about responsible gambling.

[Female actor] Uh huh.

[Female actor] Yeah sure.

[Female actor] Stay in control.

[Female actor] Oh I’m in control.

[Female actor] Walk away.

[Female actors] Bye.

[Female actors] Read the signs.

[Female actors] Signs?

[Female actor] Hey I am responsible. I work extra hours so I can gamble.

[Female actor] I am a person, I don’t open up very easily, but when I did it I felt there’s a message.

[Female actor] Do you not enjoy driving on the highway? Hospitals, you know great hospitals. Where does the money come from?

[Female actor] And what I don’t get is how come the Victorian Government doesn’t own up to it’s addiction to the income from gambling money. How come they don’t feel any shame? And what about the industry? They all it an entertainment industry? That’s a joke.

[Male actor] We can’t do nothing about it. We can’t just let it keep going. If we’re going to lose a person a month to suicide over gambling, that’s deplorable.

[Female actor in Vietnamese language] We ask people to open their arm to help victims of gambling problems.

[Female actor in Vietnamese language] Government, police and the community please help.

[Female actor in Vietnamese language] Stop pokies. Stop casino.

[Female counsellor] What are we going to do about this problem?

[Female counsellor] Answer, it’s your turn now.

[Catherine Simmonds] The power of the advocate. That voice to rise up as it wants to rise up and speak as it wants to speak. Less mediated, unbridled, as it wishes to be and it risks itself and it works.

[Female in Vietnamese language] Gambling weakens a person so much that he’s unable to do anything else. And if we keep feeding him with money, and letting him play, we would eventually kill him. He will die slowly, not just at once.

[Text displays] Thank you to all the participants for sharing your stories

[Credits] Participants:

Link Health and Community: Anna Bardsley, Louise Bence, Paul Fung. Max Lichtenbaum, Chandana Rao, Michel Ryan, Kheng Tan, Ken Wolfe.

Springvale Indochinese Mutual Assistance Association (SICMAA): Van Dau Bui, Thi Kim Ly Dang, Thi Xuan Dao Huynh, Qui Tam Le, Thi Tuong Le, Tran Thi Mui, Chi Nguyen, Tra Nguyen, Thi Mui Tran.

Bilingual workers: Arabic Welfare – Hoda Hahal, Greek Welfare – Dee Kouroutsidou, Turkish Welfare – Arzu Kayhan.

Cinematographer: Irene Metter.

Post Production:

Final re-record mixers – Craig Jansson/Mark D’Angelo, Mixed and produced at The backlot Post, Melbourne, Australia, Colorist – Tim Whiting.

Theatre Director: Catherine Simmonds.

Community Workers and Support:

Link Health - Judy Avisar, SICMAA - Bic Gresty, Gambler’s Help Southern – Marlena Ziety and Anastasia Sagris-Desmond. Gilda Ayerst, Erica Rothschild.

Translators: Vietnamese – My Dung Nguyen and Holly Nguyen.

Scenes performed for: Anglicare, Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association (AVWA) Family Expo, Bentleigh Bayside Community Health (BBCH), Eastern Access Community Health (EACH), Gambler’s Help Southern (GHS), Gambler’s Help Eastern (GHE), Health West, Inner East Primary Care Partnership (IEPCP – ‘Chasing the Luck’ Chinese project launch, LINK Health and Community, Monash Health and SECADA, New Hope Chinese Seniors Activity Group, Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC), Springvale Indochinese Mutual Assistance Association (SICMAA) – Vietnamese community, Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), Victorian Local Government Association (VLGA), Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF), Women’s Prison – Dame Phyllis Frost.

Music: Anna Bardsley voice for Let me Entertain You, In the Moment – Colin Herbertson, 2013.

Director and Editor: Irene Metter.

Producer: Judy Avisar, Link Health and Community.

[Logos display] Link Health and Community, Gambler’s Help, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

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