Listening to the stories of Aboriginal people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities is important to reducing gambling harm.
Held in Wodonga on 4 April, the 'Gambling harm across cultures' forum provided an opportunity for the region to hear from academics and other speakers on gambling-related harm, particularly through the lens of culture, vulnerability and human rights.
Brett Sanderson, Community Advocacy Officer at the Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council, which hosted the forum, said the need to understand the complexity of gambling harm through the context of people’s lives and past traumas, including cultural displacement, was a key learning from the day.
“The need to empower people through the telling of their own stories as a way of healing and tackling vulnerabilities to gambling is important,” he said.
Award winning author and human rights advocate Arnold Zable spoke about empowering vulnerable people, while La Trobe University Associate Professor Sarah MacLean presented findings from research on gambling among Aboriginal peoples in the Sunraysia area, and in Gippsland and East Gippsland.
“To address the negative impacts of gambling, people wanted responses that offer similar pleasures such as the opportunity to socialise, without the associated harms,” Assoc Prof MacLean said.
Suggested solutions included promotion of community activities such as yarning circles.
To this end, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s Prevention Partnership Program supports a range of diverse groups in urban and regional Victoria to pilot projects that build social connection and resilience to prevent and reduce gambling harm.
Mr Sanderson said a panel discussion at the event, which featured the Bhutanese Community Support Group in Albury Wodonga, Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation, Gambler’s Help Wodonga, and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, highlighted the need for gambling harm prevention to be “collaborative and comprehensive”.
Opportunities in social settings
The Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council is using social connections to help reduce gambling harm in CALD communities.
Working alongside local Gambler’s Help services at Gateway Health in Wodonga, local initiatives include collaborations with the Bhutanese Australian Community Support Group in Albury Wodonga. This included raising awareness of gambling harm among young people through volleyball and dancing programs.
The Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council also worked closely with the Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation to help organise the 'Gambling harm across cultures' forum and highlight key achievements in the region.
“Conversations about gambling harm prevention need to be raised in social settings, and in the context of communities themselves,” Community Advocacy Officer Brett Sanderson said. “Things such as sport and recreation present an ideal opportunity to engage with migrant and refugee communities.”
The Foundation acknowledged the hard work of the Albury Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council at the 'Gambling harm across cultures' forum by presenting certificates to members acknowledged as Community Champions.