From pokie addiction to leading a United Nations Association wellbeing conversation

Article by Bree Winchester

Canberra mum Kate Seselja is happy for you to ask her anything about her former poker machine addiction. Anything.

How could you take money from your own childrens’ mouths? Why didn’t you just stop? How much debt did you rack up? Why didn’t someone at the club report you?

It is this bravery and absolute transparency around her addiction that led to the establishment of Mrs Seselja’s not-for-profit foundation, The Hope Project, 12 months ago, and more recently being approached by the United Nations Association to help lead a global conversation around personal wellbeing.

The mum of six, who racked up $500,000 in debt during a 12-year addiction to poker machines, has been charged by the United Nations Australia Association with stimulating and leading a conversation nationally around UN sustainability goal number three – good health and wellbeing.

She’ll be the very public face of goal number three in Australia, speaking on her own personal struggle to “find myself” after poker machine addiction, but also leading a creative conversation on how people can learn to put themselves first.

“During my healing process I started a daily practice of being awake … and that has made all the difference to my world,” Mrs Seselja said.

“As a busy mum, I started getting up and having 5am to 6am as my time, because I knew no other hour of the day I could guarantee would be mine.

“I’ve been able to maintain my own wellbeing in amongst still having a crazy amount of debt because of gambling, still having six children, all of life’s normal pressures plus taking on my own not-for-profit.

“My world has expanded but my capacity has grown because I put my own wellbeing needs first.”

Mrs Seselja said while the UN sustainable development goals might seem too “big picture” to some, that the old cliche “change starts in the lounge room” was actually true for goal number three.

“People will drive the goals, their success or their failure, but if we don’t help people be better skilled and functioning at a higher level as far as their wellbeing is concerned then these goals will never shift,” she said.

“You might like the idea of ending hunger and solving the environmental crises of the world but if you’re drowning in your own personal overwhelm you don’t have the capacity to give a shit.

“We can all walk past things and see needs in all of our environments – schools, workplaces, homes – but when you’re not functioning at a level that’s sustainable, you can’t give what you don’t have and you can’t change what you don’t know.”

Mrs Seselja said a series of talks around goal number three were planned for Canberra for later this year.

Her appearance on ABC television’s episode of You Can’t Ask Thataround gambling addiction is currently available on iView.

If this story has raised issues for you or someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Read orignial article from The Canberra Times