Edition #1: Youth and gambling

Tuan at Clayton Station
Tuan at Clayton Station
Tuan Truong, photo: Paul Jeffers


The main game in preventing youth gambling

When Tuan arrived in Melbourne to study, he joined a large community of international students at Monash University. Like many students new to the country, he knew very few people and in the early days felt quite lonely.

'I am from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I had no travelling experience and it was intimidating to set foot on unknown soil where there is a culture and language barrier,' he says.

International students are one of many groups vulnerable to developing gambling problems, not least because of social isolation. As well as being home to a number of these vulnerable communities, Monash has the second highest concentration of pokies in Victoria.

International students are one of many groups vulnerable to developing gambling problems, not least because of social isolation.

Because of this, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation is funding Clayton CANVAS, a Monash Council project to prevent and reduce harm caused by gambling in the area.

Connecting students with the community

Early this year, Tuan saw an ad in a Monash University newsletter, inviting volunteers to join an international students' leadership group to plan and develop a community event. He signed up.

The leadership group is one of several Clayton CANVAS activities aimed at reducing social isolation among young international students. Program officer Liz O'Loughlin says it's designed to help participants connect with the local community and become more aware of the risks of gambling, all within the context of volunteer work experience.

'The group organised a free community gaming event for young people at the Clayton Community Centre, including a parent forum exploring links between gaming and gambling,' says Liz.

'As well as making community connections and getting a deeper understanding of youth issues, the students developed skills in event promotion and project management.'

Arcadia 2K15

Clayton Canvas Arcadia promotional graphicOn 15 May, Tuan and 13 colleagues in the International Students' Leadership Group presented Arcadia 2K15 to 300 people from the diverse local community. Clayton Community Centre was buzzing with families, children and teenagers playing video and board games together.

'It was exciting the day before the event because finally our ideas and hard work will be tested,' says Tuan. 'One of our objectives was to deliver a positive experience and I felt rewarded to see it come together perfectly.'

'As well as making community connections and getting a deeper understanding of youth issues, the students developed skills in event promotion and project management.'

Program officer Liz O'Loughlin

While celebrating the positives of the video gaming culture, the event also provided alternative activities to gaming. Parents had the chance to discuss concerns about video games, including gambling-themed games, at a forum presented by Steven Dupon from the Institute of Games.

Clayton Canvas Arcadia event, friends celebrating(L to R) Clara, Janis, Chingfong and Ivy

Clayton CANVAS is an initiative of Monash Council and is supported by:

  • City of Kingston
  • Gamblers Help Eastern / Eastern Access Community Health (EACH)
  • Clayton, Clayton South and Clarinda Community Leadership Group
  • Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Clayton Canvas Arcadia event, friends celebrating The International Students' Leadership Group, which was facilitated by youth worker Samantha King (centre) from Monash Youth and Family Services (MYFS)

Doing it for the kids

Clayton CANVAS is one of many local education and prevention projects funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation across Victoria. Other prevention projects with a specific youth focus include:

Project Organisation Description
Apprentices Project Incolink Educating apprentices in the Victorian construction industry about the difference between responsible gambling and problem gambling, and providing individual support to those already experiencing problems.
Making Meaning St Luke's Gambler's Help Delivering psycho-education and group therapy to female prisoners at Tarrengower Prison who have identified as problem gamblers. The program is being further developed and renamed 'Finding the Man' for 18 to 21-year-old male prisoners at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre.
Chisholm Student Project Chisholm Institute and Bentleigh Bayside Community Health Delivering responsible gambling awareness activities to students and staff of Chisholm Institute, including promoting help services and encouraging people to seek help if they need it.
My rollercoaster Uniting Care Goulburn North East Building social connection between young people and raising awareness of problem gambling through a website for youth to connect, upload art or writing and access information on problem gambling and where to get help.

For more on these and other community education projects funded by the foundation, read about the foundation's prevention program.

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