Shane Lucas, photo: Paul Jeffers
We know community concern about gambling harm is growing in Victoria, especially in relation to young people, for whom gambling is becoming normalised through sports betting and video games with gambling-like features. Last week, during Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2019, we saw a groundswell in community support and interest in addressing these concerns.
In my first Gambling Harm Awareness Week as CEO, it was also striking to see our many partners – individuals, communities, professionals, universities, businesses, government – work together to show what we’re about, and what we’re all striving for: a Victoria free from gambling-related harm.
More than 65 community events were held across the state – from Mildura to Moe – to increase awareness and understanding of gambling harm and encourage conversations about it. There was a record number of community events this year. You can read more about some of them in this edition of Inside gambling: Communities warm up to Gambling Harm Awareness Week.
We saw a groundswell in community support and interest in addressing these concerns.
We launched the week with a panel of experts exploring the challenges of stigma in the areas of gambling harm, mental illness and alcohol consumption. Threaded throughout the discussion was the importance of talking openly about our experiences of harm, and of recognising in the stories of others our common humanity and vulnerability. As panellist Michelle Blanchard, deputy CEO of SANE Australia, said, ‘Storytelling becomes a really important part of addressing stigma and discrimination’. Read more about this inspiring discussion on stigma and how we can tackle it.
The theme for Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2019 was ‘Talk. Share. Support.’ Talking about the issue, sharing experiences, and supporting others are among the most important steps we can take to help prevent gambling harm in our community. Personal stories of recovery are incredibly powerful because they offer empathy and hope, and give others confidence to seek support. Paul Fung, a member of the Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee, told his compelling story to a captivated audience before the panel discussion. You can read it here: Sharing stories on the path to recovery.
Personal stories of recovery are incredibly powerful because they offer empathy and hope.
Bendigo was the location for a key Foundation activity during the week. The Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, announced funding of nearly $2 million for 14 new projects in our Prevention Partnership Program. Our partners receiving these grants will be running projects over 2019–2020 to build connection and resilience in their communities and contribute to the evidence base of what works in preventing gambling harm. Read more about these new projects to prevent gambling harm across the state.
Minister Kairouz made this announcement at the first of a series of ‘Knowledge in action’ workshops for community members to hear from researchers about their findings related to gambling harm, and to discuss how those findings might be applied, including in their own work or to local projects. The workshop focused on gambling harm and young people, with researchers presenting on issues including eSports, the normalisation of gambling, and gambling attitudes and behaviours among secondary school students in Victoria.
Most people under 25 have never experienced a time when sport and betting were considered separate activities.
We continued the conversation about young people’s exposure to gambling advertising at a panel discussion co-hosted with Vicsport. Given most people under 25 have never experienced a time when sport and betting were considered separate activities, this is a hot topic. Panellists, including AFLW superstar Daisy Pearce, Geelong President Colin Carter, Western Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains, sports journalist Greg Baum and netball legend Sharelle McMahon, reflected on how sports betting has changed the game, what that means for them personally, and how we can influence the way in which kids experience sport in the future. Read more in this edition about the state of play for young people and gambling.
As we head into Spring Racing Carnival, conversations about gambling harm are as important as ever. We’re asking people to pause and reflect on whether gambling is affecting how they feel. And we’re asking this in Arabic, Chinese, English, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Find out more about the effects of gambling.