Study recommends community-driven response to Koori gambling

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:23:00 +0000

A study commissioned by Mallee District Aboriginal Services is helping to highlight the extent of problem gambling in the Mallee’s Aboriginal community – and identifying possible strategies and solutions.

The study, published by La Trobe University, was compiled from interviews conducted with 26 community members across the Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang region earlier this year.

You can download the report here.

The report found that although gambling was identified as “a popular and pleasurable activity”, participants also noted it was a “respite from depression, loneliness, stress and sadness”, with some acknowledging it to be a cause of significant harm.

Although the study noted that tighter regulation by government would aid in reducing harm, other recommendations were more community-focussed.

The report found that there was a strong sense that for interventions to work, more open discussion about gambling was needed, in part to address shame, one of the biggest barriers identified to addressing harm.

MDAS chief executive officer Rudolph Kirby said the report would be used as a springboard to open community discussion on the issue of problem gambling.

“One of the main findings of the study, and one of the challenges we face, is that a lot of people don’t identify gambling itself as a problem in the first place,” Mr Kirby said.

“They might acknowledge they have money problems or health problems or family problems, but most people don’t see gambling as a problem in itself,” he said.

“Even when they do they’re often too embarrassed to say something or seek help because of the stigma around the issue.”

Mr Kirby said the report’s findings would be a catalyst for strengthening the delivery of support services, with the assistance of funding announced by the Victorian Government last month.

The project known as “It’s not all about the money” will be funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to allow MDAS and La Trobe University to work with other Elders and community members in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang to co-design and implement interventions.

MDAS Gambler’s Help Officer Tiffany Griffin said the work would focus on looking at how to increase the open conversations about gambling in the community.

“This is a great opportunity to first acknowledge the problem that we have, then get the community on-board to address the problem and preventing it being such a problem in future, as well,” Ms Griffin said.

“We want the community to be part of designing our education and support services so they are not only more aware of them, but feel comfortable in coming forward and asking for support for a problem they or a family member might have,” she said.

“The report also identified that one of the things that drew people to gambling venues, particularly bingo, was the opportunity to socialise and catch up with others, so opportunities for replacement activities is also an important factor that we can look at.”

The project will complement the support services already provided by Gambler’s Help MDAS.

The MDAS Social and Emotional wellbeing team can be contacted on (03) 5018 4100. Gambler’s Help services can also be access by calling 1800 858 858. 

Pictured MDAS Gambler's Help Counsellor Tiffany Griffin with Social and Emotional Wellbeing Manager Raelene Stephens