Shane Lucas, photo: Paul Jeffers
Welcome to the June edition of Inside gambling, which includes many positive stories about people working together to prevent and reduce gambling harm in Victoria.
Our partnerships with organisations and individuals – such as those featured in this edition – are crucial to fulfilling our shared task of addressing gambling harm. These relationships embody the public health concept of shared responsibility across the community and not-for-profit sectors, industry and governments at all levels.
During my first 100 days as Foundation CEO, I have been fortunate to meet, listen to and learn from many of our inspiring partners and stakeholders – and below are just a few snapshots of my experiences so far.
A boost for regional and rural Victoria
One notable gathering was in Ballarat in May, where we joined regional partners to hear Marlene Kairouz, Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, announce $49 million in funding for the Foundation to administer the Gambler’s Help program over the next three years, with a focus on regional and rural areas. Minister Kairouz also announced our new Gambler’s Help funding model, which, developed in consultation with service providers, offers more flexibility for people on the ground to deliver tailored responses to their communities.
I have been fortunate to meet, listen to and learn from many of our inspiring partners and stakeholders.
Held during National Reconciliation Week, the Ballarat event also saw Minister Kairouz announce $2.2 million in annual funding over the next three years for the Foundation to support Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse community partners to deliver services, including counselling in their own languages.
Our partnerships with four Aboriginal organisations co-designing responses to gambling harm with their communities reflect the Victorian Government’s commitment to self-determination for our First Peoples.
Prevention the bedrock of our public health approach
The $153 million committed to the Foundation over the next four years in the Victorian Budget is for Gambler’s Help services to work across the spectrum of gambling harm, from prevention to early intervention and treatment. To build this work, we also fund key partners to deliver community-led initiatives and projects to prevent gambling harm, through building social connection and community resilience. This is fundamental to our public health approach. Minister Kairouz announced $9.3 million over four years to back this important preventative work.
Our Prevention Partnership Program supports community-based, not-for-profit, local government and public health organisations to test new ways to head off gambling harm. One of the many success stories of this program has been Libraries After Dark, which saw four libraries in Melbourne’s north opening their doors after hours for activities such as film nights and craft classes, providing vulnerable, isolated and other at-risk people with an alternative to the pokies. The Victorian Government has committed additional funds to expand this program to other areas of the state.
We also fund key partners to deliver community-led initiatives and projects to prevent gambling harm, through building social connection and community resilience.
Our Love the Game Sporting Club Program is another shining example of partners working together to benefit and protect the community – in this case, reducing young people’s exposure to sports betting advertising. Thanks to our more than 400 elite and community sporting club partners throughout the state, we are reaching countless players, fans, parents and kids with the message that sport and betting don’t need to go together, and encouraging conversations about the risks and consequences of gambling.
Over the past few months, I’ve met with many of our Love the Game partners – including elite AFL, cricket, soccer and rugby clubs – and have been consistently impressed by their commitment to the program, and for saying no to sports betting sponsorships. Our sporting partners play a significant role in influencing young people’s understanding about the risks of gambling. Not least on this coming weekend, when our elite and community-level AFL partners will be getting behind our annual Love the Game footy round.
Drawing on wisdom and expertise
The Foundation works with many people who have personal experience of gambling harm and who are using their hard-won insights to help others. It is these compelling and articulate individuals who have had the most profound effect on me in my first three months in the role. Lynda Genser – a member of our Lived Experience Advisory Committee – is no exception, and you can read her compelling story in In search of a fresh start.
Mat Crompton shared his experiences with the Foundation as part of our current awareness-raising campaign: ‘Gambling can affect how you feel. Think… is that true for you?’ In this edition, Mat reflects that he needed to understand – emotionally and intellectually – why he gambled, before he could change his behaviour. Mat tells his story in ‘Plus means more’: the good life after sports betting.
These personal accounts, and the other stories of collaboration in this edition, provide further insights into the wisdom and expertise of our many valued partners.