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A life-shattering addiction that ‘never leaves’

INTERNAL BATTLE: Once the addiction takes hold, it never really leaves, according to one family struggling to help a loved one deal with the impact of a gambling problem.

INTERNAL BATTLE: Once the addiction takes hold, it never really leaves, according to one family struggling to help a loved one deal with the impact of a gambling problem.

OUR son lost or destroyed: his relationship with his daughter, his partner, his company; bankruptcy, his health; developed cocaine addiction and continual alcohol abuse, his self-worth; developed high anxiety and depression. Our son, fortunately, had family to provide five months of intensive treatment for his gambling addiction.

We watched and rescued him out of many heartbreaking, life-threatening situations over those years. It painfully affected all involved. The more we educated ourselves with this gambling world, the more we became aware that this did not have to be.

Poker machines are a delightful party, packaged, life destroying drug. Yes, and totally legal. The government and the clubs/community promote them as a pleasurable recreation. This is a lie. Revenue from these machines, for whatever purpose, is the pusher/dealer for the addict.

We are proud of our son’s efforts to regain his life. After being back in the workforce, regaining trust in his relationship with his ex-partner and daughter, regaining his health and taking responsibility for his recovery for nine months – it has now ended.

Again, the pull of the pokies, the acceptability, the shameful advertising and promotion of gambling especially in NSW with over 200,000 sparkling machines calling you … he has relapsed. Our son is 33 and has fought many demons. He has achieved much praise for his abilities in his career, he is loved by his daughter, partner, family and friends.

But he told me last week “it never leaves me, not ever has it left me, the addiction, I am so, so sad, I can’t go on”.

Name supplied, Valentine

Rate cut disgrace

WHO would have thought that in 2017 some of the lowest paid workers would have to take a pay reduction?

I have just retired after working 42 years in retail. I worked the first weekend that Sunday trade was introduced. The benefit offered to us was a higher hourly rate. Employers were more than happy to pay penalty rates so Sunday trade could be introduced. I worked in a management position for years and did weekly rosters; I came to realise how important Sunday pay rates were to the staff; young families who needed to put food on their tables and university students, to put petrol in their cars. I think it is a disgrace. If you can’t afford to pay your staff then don’t open.

Liz McInnes, Aberglasslyn

Exploration, not teaching

RON Elphick (Letters, 25/2) appears to know nothing about the ethics classes offered in some NSW public schools. In these classes, which are delivered by trained volunteers (who are not ‘teachers’); students explore ethical issues through give-and-take of reasoned arguments.

The students learn to disagree respectfully, to challenge ideas and to support their arguments with considered evidence rather than according to habit or peer pressure. No one has “the last word”.

There are no ethics “taught”. Not those of Kevin McDonald, or Ron Elphick, or anyone else. And as for the ridiculous question asked: how ethical are the people “teaching” them? The volunteers do not “teach” the students anything. Instead, they listen to the arguments proposed by the students, and invite other students to either agree or disagree, and to put forward their own views.

By the end of each session, there may or may not be a consensus reached, but at least each student has had an opportunity to put forward their viewpoint. There is no “teaching” at all. Instead there is only discussion and questioning in true Socratic style.

Mr Elphick should consult the information on the ethics classes available via Google, and have his own misgivings resolved.

Kevin McDonald, Balickera 

Act before work starts

THE passage on February 24 of the second reading of the Act to transfer the Supercars race to Newcastle was a signal we had only 28 days before they can start the extensive works to change our streets into a race track. The impact on residents’ health and building integrity is likely to be great. There has never been a car race in Australia going so close to so many residential buildings.

Health authorities know from coalmining that the mix of extreme noise, carcinogenic tiny air particles and psychological stress risks increases asthma and heart attacks, whilst daytime noises increase blood pressure. Mining is one kilometre from the nearest residences but this race track goes under my first floor unit living room balcony, turns the corner to go under my bedroom balcony only two to three metres away. I am advised the noise levels will damage my hearing in just a minute if I don’t wear ear muffs.

Our heritage building has dropped lumps of concrete from its facade onto the street below in the past. Will the repairs stand up to the extreme vibration? In order to stand a chance to get compensation for any health and building damage resulting from this unwelcome race it is essential we have good baseline data of blood pressure, lung function, sleep quality, hearing etc, recorded now. Our buildings need to be photographed by an independent expert now. The air particulate level needs measuring.

Mark Pearson of the Animal Justice Party warned animal hearing is usually much more acute than our own and pet owners should be warned. To my knowledge he is the only local politician who spoke against the Act and this travesty of justice.

Steve Robinson, Newcastle East

It’s dollars, not sexism

THE suggestion that sexism is behind criticism of Cr Nelmes’ childcare claim is absurd (Letters, 28/2). What people rail against is the nose-in-the-trough mentality, and no party has a monopoly on this.

I understand the issue of childcare for Newcastle councillors was raised when Cr Nelmes was first elected in 2008. An allowance was established, I believe because she requested it. At the same time another councillor had two small children being minded during council meetings. No claim for child care, no sense of entitlement.

This has nothing to do with sexism and everything to do with ratepayers being fleeced by people who are only too pleased to be spending other people’s money. It is especially galling when the claim is during an overseas trip, the third of her short tenure, funded by the ratepayers and, I think, of dubious value to Newcastle.

I understand Cr Nelmes is paid $110,000 a year. It is perfectly reasonable to expect her to pay her own childcare costs. You know, like everyone else in the community has to.

Mike King, Kotara

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