Former gamblers are celebrating 10 years of helping others overcome their gambling issues at an event in Heidelberg today where the state's Gambler's Help peer program started in 2005.
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation along with Banyule Community Health are marking a decade of the program which started with a group of Gambler's Help clients.
Foundation CEO Serge Sardo says the former gamblers understood their experiences could help others.
"They wanted to give back some of the support they had received and they also understood it would perpetuate and sustain their own recovery," he said.
Banyule Community Health CEO, Jim Pasinis says these clients became the first volunteers for the program.
"Their experiences and ability to empathise could really help others to understand they too could overcome their gambling problems," he said.
The peer connection program brings together volunteers who are both former gamblers and others who have been affected by someone else's gambling.
Volunteers are trained to listen and offer non-judgemental support over the phone. The volunteers are matched to clients who they have something in common with and they provide emotional support. They do not replace but complement the counselling provided by Gambler's Help professional counsellors.
Mr Sardo says the program demonstrates that recovery is possible
"It shows in living colour that people can take control over their gambling and thrive," he said.
Mr Pasinis says the volunteers become powerful role models.
"They understand the difficulties: emotional, social and financial in a way only someone who has been through similar issues can.
"When they say 'I understand' they really do and that's a powerful thing to say to someone," he said.
The 10 year celebration at Banyule Community Health will include insights from two current peer connect volunteers as well as the presentation of certificates to the volunteers.
2-4pm - Monday 29, June 2015
21 Alamein Road, West Heidelberg