When Maree first began dabbling with poker machines, she never believed her urges and debts would lead to a gaol sentence.
Once the proud 2015 NRMA Manager of the Year for the Hunter, within a few months her poker machine debts had spiralled out of control and $49,000 in cash had been stolen from the NRMA office where she worked.
“I knew I would get caught. And then I did get caught” said Maree. I told my GP and she referred me to Wesley Mission. I look back now and I really think God was intervening.”
Maree contacted Jodie Rollason, Principal Solicitor with Wesley Community Legal Service, who provided legal support.
It was at Wesley Mission that gambling counsellor, Martina Magnery, began the long process of working through Maree’s issues of addiction while financial counsellor, Robyn Venness, helped her develop budgeting and financial management skills.
In June last year Maree was sentenced to 16 months gaol with a non-parole period of 10 months. An appeal was later lodged by Wesley Legal on Maree’s behalf and was heard in Newcastle in August 2017.
As she travelled in a NSW Corrective Services van to attend her appeal, Maree was highly anxious and distinctly remembers a calm descending upon her resulting from a strong sense of the presence of Jesus Christ. Throughout her entire time in gaol, she felt that God had not abandoned her.
Only a few months after the release from gaol, Maree began a certificate three course in business administration (medical) at TAFE.
“I have seen Maree’s sense of hope and confidence increase dramatically,” Martina said. “She has plenty of goals and is a different woman from the one that she was.”
Maree intends to continue to attend counselling and has set a new course in life thanks to Martina, Robyn and Jodie, who she credits with “saving her life.” It’s a job that is replicated hundreds of times each year by Wesley Gambling and Financial Counselling.