Edition #14: April 2019

Photo of a middle-aged man wearing glasses, a blue business shirt and yellow tie standing beside plants in an office environment and smiling at the camera.
Photo of a middle-aged man wearing glasses, a blue business shirt and yellow tie standing beside plants in an office environment and smiling at the camera.
Shane Lucas, photo: Paul Jeffers

Welcome to the 14th edition of Inside gambling

Having the conversation about gambling harm

I’m delighted to introduce this issue of Inside gambling, the first since I commenced as CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in March 2019.

In this edition, you’ll find stories that give a sense of the challenges faced by individuals, families and communities experiencing gambling harm, and also the innovative approaches taken by the Foundation and our partners in seeking to prevent gambling harm.

I come to the Foundation after several years as CEO of Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA), a Melbourne-based peak body representing not-for-profit kindergartens and child care providers. Prior to ELAA, I held a number of senior roles with the Victorian and Australian governments and in the private sector, and was most recently a full-time member of the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Though I bring a wealth of experience across many public policy areas, this is my first direct engagement with gambling harm prevention. I look forward to a journey of continual learning as I meet with our partners and stakeholders across industry and the sector.

It has been an active conversation in our house for several years to ‘love the game, not the odds’.

As the father of three young boys, I was not unaware of the extent to which gambling activity has been normalised in recent years through extensive advertising and online gaming. My children, aged nine to 15, are exposed to gambling advertising at the footy and on television, and it has been an active conversation in our house for several years to ‘love the game, not the odds’.

Through my kids, I have seen the many positive educational and social benefits of some online games. But the architectural similarities of some gaming and gambling platforms has become more apparent to me – as it has to many other parents – and we are now having a conversation about risk at home. It’s not a question of parents banning online gaming, but building an awareness that not all gaming platforms have the best interests of young players at heart.

Innovation to reduce gambling harm

The article ‘Gaming to gambling: helping young people navigate the risks’ lays out the background but also introduces some programs designed to inform parents so they can better engage with this sometimes mystifying part of their children’s lives. It’s important for parents to better understand the technology and terminology such as ‘loot boxes’ and ‘skins’, so we can help our kids navigate the online gaming world and avoid those games designed to steer them toward gambling.

The story on the Next Generation Academy introduces us to a young AFL hopeful being given lessons in the risks of sports betting. I’m delighted that AFL clubs are taking up this initiative and hope that it continues to deepen the Foundation’s relationship with our most popular sporting code.

In 2018, the Foundation established the Lived Experience Advisory Committee and, in this edition of Inside gambling, committee member Shayne Rodgers shares his story of the road back from gambling addiction. Shayne’s insights are amplified through his podcast, Not a dollar more, where he looks at the triggers and urges that can lead people into gambling and other addictive behaviours.

‘If he or she can do it, so can I,’ is an important message of encouragement for any person trying to overcome addictive and damaging behaviours.

In the same vein, Bayu Pratama from ReSpin shares his powerful story of gambling recovery. Bayu doesn’t shy away from hard truths. He still struggles with temptation, but he’s using his experience to support other young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

These stories of lived experience are utterly compelling and they show us all that recovery is achievable. ‘If he or she can do it, so can I,’ is an important message of encouragement for any person trying to overcome addictive and damaging behaviours. Full credit to Shayne and Bayu for not just surviving on the other side of addiction, but for thriving and for sharing their personal stories.

Also making a significant difference is a collaboration between financial and therapeutic counsellors in the Latrobe Valley. It’s a testament to the skills and commitment of these professionals that clients are rediscovering the people they used to be, and becoming the people they want to be, while families are supported and strengthened.

I am inspired by this collection of stories and these exceptional people. There’s so much effective work being done and so much more to do. I am privileged to have this opportunity as the Foundation CEO to work with all our partners and stakeholders to continue the journey.

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