Shane Lucas, photo: Paul Jeffers
For many Victorians who live and work in bushfire-affected areas, it has been a very difficult start to 2020. The thoughts of the staff and board of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation are with those families and communities that have been impacted.
It is well known that traumatic events can exacerbate people's need to seek solace in activities that bring them comfort, which can include gambling. This can be especially appealing to people feeling vulnerable.
Through our Gambler’s Help agencies, the Foundation offers professional therapeutic and financial support services, delivered by compassionate, well-trained staff throughout the state, as often, and for as long, as needed.
I encourage Victorians who are negatively affected by their own or someone else’s gambling to call 1800 858 858 for free, confidential information, advice, counselling and referral services 24/7. Alternatively, supports such as online chat and self-help resources are available from gamblershelp.com.au.
In this edition of Inside gambling, I’m pleased to introduce five articles encompassing very different aspects of gambling harm and the role the Foundation is playing to address them.
Self-awareness leads to new path
Fred Rubinstein is the newest member of the Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee. It has been three years since Fred, now 23, broke a routine of gambling at the casino all night, sleeping all day, and betting online in between. Since gambling away a large inheritance from his dad, a semi-professional gambler, and stealing from his mum, Fred has turned his life around. He is studying to become a special-needs teacher and, by sharing his story of recovery, offers hope to other young people who are struggling with gambling addiction. Read about how Fred is now winning big.
Social connection bolsters recovery
In her post-gambling life, Dr Gabi Byrne supports others whose gambling has led to harm, through activities that promote social connection and leisure substitution. Gabi, now employed by the Foundation as a senior advisor, recently completed a PhD on the importance of people filling the hole left in their life when they stop gambling, as a way of preventing relapse. She says that while people gamble for a range of different reasons, social isolation is often a key challenge they need to overcome to be able to re-make meaning in their lives.
Girls love the game, not the odds
On 8 March, the Foundation will celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 by recognising the contribution female sportspeople make to the community as role models for the next generation. Karen Paxman is an AFLW player for Melbourne Football Club, a valued Love the Game partner, who believes the number one reason to play sport is because it’s fun. But Karen also recognises that the confidence girls gain on the field can have flow-on effects beyond sport, like empowering them to take up opportunities and excel in other endeavours previously dominated by boys or men. Read more in Footy, friends and fun.
The power of words
Last November, the Foundation was delighted to launch our first Reconciliation Action Plan, in which we endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart and make a commitment to embed the principles of self-determination into our work. This is reflected in the program for our Gambling Harm Conference 2020: Every conversation counts, to be held in Frankston in March.
A highlight of the conference will be a keynote on Indigenous storytelling and its connection to social justice by Professor Anita Heiss, a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation and one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known authors. In the lead-up to the conference, Anita spoke to Inside gambling about the oral tradition of First Nations peoples and the importance of listening to the storytellers
A recent professional development workshop for counsellors looked at the challenging task of supporting clients through change. With a particular focus on those under pressure from financial institutions, the session considered effective ways to encourage a client who is reluctant to change their behaviour.
Financial counselling is oriented to action. Financial counsellors can be powerful advocates to creditors on a client’s behalf while also referring the client on for therapeutic counselling to work on deeper issues that may obstruct progress. Read about how counsellors can roll with resistance.