Foundation interim CEO Janet Dore, photo: Paul Jeffers
Last week was Victoria’s first Gambling Harm Awareness Week and, speaking personally, the best orientation week for a newbie to the Foundation.
As interim CEO, I had an inkling I was inheriting a well-performing and well-functioning organisation, but this was brought home in no small measure by the expertise, creativity and commitment I saw, in both the Foundation and our many partners, during Gambling Harm Awareness Week.
In previous years, this important week in the Foundation’s calendar was called Responsible Gambling Awareness Week. The name change, shifting the focus from responsibility to harm, is part of former CEO Louise Glanville’s legacy.
Under Louise’s leadership, the Foundation and our partners have hit their stride in tackling gambling harm as a public health issue. Community conversations about the notion of gambling harm have been central to this. They raise awareness about the early signs of gambling harm and empower people affected by it to seek assistance.
The theme for last week was ‘Talk. Share. Support.’. With our partners – including local government, community organisations and gambling providers – we encouraged open conversations about gambling harm at more than 50 events across the state. Many participants said the theme was perfect, using destigmatising language for an often hidden issue and making people feel comfortable to talk about it. It was truly a week that launched a thousand conversations.
Continuing to build the momentum
In this twelfth edition of Inside gambling, we also invite you to dip into our annual report for 2017–2018 and our strategic plan for 2018–2021. These two publications show the importance of collaboration in achieving our goals, and how, through our relationships, we are greater than the sum of our parts.
I feel privileged to be guiding the Foundation as our 2018–2021 strategy begins to be realised, and particularly excited about some developments already underway.
At the Foundation’s biennial Gambling Harm Conference in August, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz announced $200,000 over three years for research into gambling harm in Aboriginal communities. We are collaborating with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service on a project exploring its successes in supporting Aboriginal communities affected by gambling harm, to gain insights so we can better support other communities facing similar challenges. Through this project, research into gambling harm in Aboriginal communities is being led by those communities.
The Gambling Harm Conference included a strong focus on First Nations. In Common ground, you can read how traditional Aboriginal yarning circles were used at the conference to discuss the issues related to gambling.
Research into gambling harm in Aboriginal communities is being led by those communities.
I am also enthusiastic about the Foundation’s commitment to addressing gambling harm in outer metropolitan, regional and rural communities. As part of our research agenda for 2018–22, we will be partnering with universities and other local organisations to explore gambling-related issues in non-metropolitan Victoria. Having lived and worked outside Melbourne for several years, and seen the social challenges faced by country communities, I am heartened by the Foundation’s focus on building resilience, reducing stigma and improving accessibility of services beyond the capital city limits.
One of the most powerful ways of breaking down stigma is through sharing personal stories of gambling harm. The Foundation has been privileged to work with many individuals who share their stories to give others hope and to let them know they are not alone. Bill Veerman is one of these people, and you can read his compelling story in A winning strategy, eventually.
One of the most powerful ways of breaking down stigma is through sharing personal stories of gambling harm.
To formalise the way the Foundation seeks input into our activities from people who have firsthand experience of gambling harm, we recently established a Lived Experience Advisory Committee. The seven committee members – who have been harmed by either their own or someone else’s gambling – will meet for the first time this month, chaired by a Foundation board member. One committee member, Brendan Ivermee, tells his story to Lisa Clausen in this edition of Inside gambling: read Breaking free.
I am inspired by Brendan’s and Bill’s stories and am looking forward to working with them and the Foundation’s many other partners in improving the health and wellbeing of all Victorians.