Edition #8: Early signs of harm from gambling

Group photo of 10 people - 6 women and 4 men.
Group photo of 10 people - 6 women and 4 men.
Minister Marlene Kairouz (third from right, front), Catherine Dell’Aquila (Sons of the West, fourth from right, front), Nathan Villiers (Brimbank City Council, first right, back), Alex Johnstone (CEO of IPC Health, second from right, back) and Craig Swift (Acting CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, first left, back) with IPC Health staff at the launch of the 14 prevention projects, photo: Paul Jeffers

Gambling prevention projects help transform lives

Community football leagues. Young leaders inspiring change. Multilingual podcasts. What do these have in common? They are features of new projects soon to be commenced by community organisations to prevent and reduce gambling harm across Victoria.

On 27 June 2017, Marlene Kairouz, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, announced 14 new prevention projects funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. The minister said the projects play a vital role in educating people about the risks of gambling and preventing harm.

‘The 14 projects will work with diverse groups and communities in urban and regional Victoria, and encourage people affected by gambling to seek advice and support,’ she said.

The strength of local knowledge

In this third year of the foundation’s Prevention Partnership Program, the projects have a strong focus on reaching Aboriginal, regional, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. As with previous grants, innovation and local knowledge are key features.

Alex Johnstone, CEO of Improving and Promoting Community Health (IPC Health), enthuses that their ‘Young Leaders of the West’ project will trial new approaches to equipping young people to help others understand the risks of gambling, and to inform their communities that it’s OK to get support.

IPC Health will work in partnership with Brimbank City Council and the Western Bulldog’s Sons of the West program to identify young ambassadors to co-design and deliver the youth leadership project through workshops and pilot programs within sporting and other community groups.

‘I’m very excited to work with our young people so that we might find a new way to solve this difficult challenge around harm from gambling.’

Alex Johnstone, CEO of IPC Health

‘We want to change the stigma around getting help, provide early intervention and link those affected into support services,’ says Alex. ‘I’m very excited to work with our young people so that we might find a new way to solve this difficult challenge around harm from gambling.’

Eddie Micallef, chairperson of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria says their project – ‘Gambling: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter & Spring – BREAK IT’ – will include running community forums for multicultural communities, service providers and ethnic senior citizens’ clubs, in Melbourne and regional centres.

‘This project will get the message out, raise awareness on issues of harm and stigma, and inform individuals about constructive ways to seek help.’

Eddie Micallef, Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria

‘We look forward to delivering forums about available support services and inspiring lifestyle changes to help mitigate gambling harm,’ says Eddie. ‘This project will get the message out, raise awareness on issues of harm and stigma, and inform individuals about constructive ways to seek help.’

Chris Lacey, Victorian manager of Reclink Australia, says being part of a sporting community can help bring gambling issues to the fore and give players the confidence to access support services.

In running the ‘Regional Football Leagues’ project, Reclink Australia will work closely with local communities to set up two new mid-week community football leagues in Central Victoria and Gippsland, with a view to including people experiencing disadvantage.

‘Being a part of a league is a really transformative experience,’ Chris says. ‘The benefits of participation are huge; they include better physical and mental health, greater social connectedness and employment outcomes. This project is going to have a hugely positive impact on these communities.’

‘Being part of a sporting community can help bring gambling issues to the fore and give players the confidence to access support services.’

Chris Lacey, Victorian Manager of Reclink Australia

In Victoria’s north, Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) will work with Aboriginal communities in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang to design programs to reduce the high levels of gambling harm in the region. The project ‘It's not all about the money' will be informed by research MDAS recently undertook in partnership with La Trobe University on gambling in the Sunraysia Aboriginal Community.

See the full list of prevention projects for 2017–19.

Testing ideas, building evidence

Previous projects funded by the foundation have had a very positive impact on their communities. They have also been crucial in testing ideas and building evidence to learn more about what works in preventing gambling harm.

Foundation CEO Louise Glanville says, ‘The Prevention Partnership Program is an important part of our work to improve community understanding of the risks and potential harms from gambling.’

This is shown in community-led projects such as a HealthWest’s ‘Reducing Gambling Frequency’ project, which encouraged social activities that don’t involve gambling, and saw seniors doing it for themselves.

Another project, run by the Horn of Africa Communities Network, trained leaders from newly arrived communities to talk to people about the risks of gambling and to support those who ask for help. See It takes a village in the last edition of Inside gambling.

‘The Prevention Partnership Program is an important part of our work to improve community understanding of the risks and potential harms from gambling.’

Louise Glanville, CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

In the Greater Geelong area, the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative brought together Aboriginal groups, artists and organisations to create videos and resources with culturally appropriate messages about gambling harm.

These and other past projects have provided strong models for community groups and organisations to create programs to reduce gambling harm in their local areas.

Read more about the 2015–17 prevention projects.

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