The Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee member Anna Bardsley was the recipient of the Healthy and Active Living Award at this week’s Victorian Senior of the Year Awards.
Anna declared herself ‘altogether honoured and proud’ to receive an award that acknowledges her tireless advocacy work.
‘Gambling harm is real,’ she said. ‘I lived with the shame for so long but now I’m facing the shame. I’ve been able to raise my voice for the many people who don’t feel able to speak; I speak for more than just myself.’
The establishment of the Foundation’s committee is an acknowledgement that the perspectives of people with lived experience of gambling harm are invaluable in the development of more effective programs, policies and services to reduce harm and address stigma. As a member of the committee since its inception in 2018, Anna is determined to change the language around gambling harm.
‘Three Sides of the Coin has been a really effective way to share our private stories,’ continued Anna. ‘We have some strong responses from the audience, and it feels like we’re opening doors for others to share their stories. It’s powerful to feel that effect and it’s raised my self-esteem. I’ve been able to admit to myself that I’m doing some good.
‘There’s a sense of loss of self with gambling. Recovery is not so much about getting back to who you were but who you were meant to be.’
Anna’s grandson Declan was proud to attend her award presentation.
‘When I first heard her story [of gambling harm] I was very sad,’ said Declan, ‘but she recovered and now she’s fighting against it and helping other people. She’s really caring.’
The presentations were made at Government House by Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and the Honourable Luke Donnellan, Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers.
Anna was one of 15 individual award recipients who ranged in age from 68 to 98. The awards were presented during the week-long Victorian Seniors Festival.