Edition #8: Early signs of harm from gambling

Headshot of Louise Glanville, Foundation CEO in front of a planter box, looking at the camera
Headshot of Louise Glanville, Foundation CEO in front of a planter box, looking at the camera
Foundation CEO Louise Glanville, photo: Paul Jeffers

Welcome to the eighth edition of Inside gambling

The wide spectrum of harm from gambling

As the new CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, I welcome you to this eighth edition of Inside gambling.

This month we celebrate the foundation’s fifth birthday, and the main theme of this edition – the early signs of harm – reflects how much thinking has changed over five years about the complex issues relating to harm from gambling. It also shows how much the foundation and our partners have evolved in our approach to preventing and reducing harm.

Focusing on the whole community

Gambling harm is a relatively new concept. Five years ago, harm was mostly articulated as ‘problem gambling’: from policymakers to the general community, the prevailing perception was that people who gambled were either in control and experiencing no negative consequences or they were ‘problem gamblers’.

But the growing body of research, evidence from counsellors and other professionals at the coalface, and, most importantly, stories from people with firsthand experience of gambling harm have lifted the veil.

In-between people who gamble with no negative consequences and those at the severe end of the spectrum, there is a large population at risk of developing serious problems because of gambling, many of whom are already experiencing harm. This includes people affected by someone else’s gambling, such as family members and friends.

There is a large population at risk of developing serious problems because of gambling, many of whom are already experiencing harm.

While the foundation’s work has always included broader community initiatives, since 2015, we have approached everything we do through the prism of public health. Our focus is on the community as a whole, looking at how we can improve the lives of all Victorians, through preventing, reducing and treating harm from gambling.

This means we work across the spectrum of gambling harm, from the less severe to the severe end, as well as addressing the risks for people not yet experiencing harm. Essential to this public health approach is recognising that certain groups are more vulnerable to harm than others and prioritising and tailoring what we do accordingly.

A shared approach

A fundamental principle of public health is shared responsibility – from individuals and community groups to industry and governments at all levels.

This edition of Inside gambling shows a shared approach in action.

Mario tells of the harm he experienced from gambling and how, with the support of loved ones, he turned his life around. He is now reaching out to young male gamblers to help them recognise the early warning signs and avoid the suffering he and his family went through.

You can read about 14 new prevention projects launched in June by Minister Marlene Kairouz and run by community organisations and local councils across Victoria to raise awareness about gambling harm in their communities. These include projects focusing on Aboriginal, regional, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

We also talk about the restrictions on gambling advertising announced by the federal government in May, looking at how gambling advertising has expanded rapidly over the last 10 years, and the challenges of re-routing what many see as a speeding train.

Researchers share stories of gambling from the Sunraysia Aboriginal community, covering both the social benefits and the severe harm it can cause. As well as experiences and insights, community members provided suggestions for addressing harm from gambling while retaining the positives it can bring.

You can also read about a new research project that aims to work with gaming venues and their customers to find ways to help people who gamble stick to their limits.

These articles, and others, demonstrate how we are all pulling together to help Victorians recognise the early signs of harm, to reduce stigma and to encourage people already experiencing harm to seek support. The efforts highlighted in this edition of people with lived experience of gambling harm, Gambler’s Help professionals, researchers, and representatives of community organisations and government, augur well for what can be achieved with a shared approach.

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