CEO, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
Last week, the Foundation board held a meeting in the regional centre of Bendigo, where the Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, invited applications for $250,000 in grants to prevent gambling harm in regional and rural Victoria.
Special guests at the funding announcement included Reclink Australia’s Victorian Manager, Chris Lacey, as well as members of local AFL team the Bendigo Bombers. The Foundation funds Reclink under our Prevention Partnership Program to support vulnerable members of regional and rural communities to change their lives through sport as an alternative recreation activity, the take-up of which reduces the risk of young men, in particular, experiencing gambling harm.
The event opened with a welcome to country and smoking ceremony, delivered by Rick Kerr, Traditional Owner of Dja Dja Wurrung Country. Smoking ceremonies are an important custom among Aboriginal Australians, who burn native flora to produce smoke that wards off bad spirits and cleanses participants. The moving ceremony tied in fittingly with the release of the Foundation's formal statement of commitment to working with non-metro communities. We are focused on supporting the significant work being carried out by community organisations across Victoria, building their capacity to tackle gambling harm through collaborative prevention projects.
While in Bendigo, the board met with staff from Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) to hear how Gambler's Help staff work with the area’s Aboriginal population to deliver counselling, support and community education programs in a way that prioritises relationship building and recognises the importance of family, community and culture. MDAS welcomed the Foundation’s statement of commitment to regional and rural Victoria, acknowledging that while there has been an uptake in Gambler's Help services since its inception, there is a way to go in raising awareness in the community about the risks of gambling, the signs of harm and how to seek support before reaching a crisis point.
The board also met with Anglicare Victoria to discuss their financial literacy programs, designed to improve financial competency in a variety of regional locations, from secondary schools through to prison populations. Anglicare are exploring the links between poor financial literacy and problem gambling, seeking to improve financial awareness by developing training, screening tools and resources to help staff working in the criminal justice system respond appropriately to individuals affected by gambling harm.
The Foundation’s emphasis on prevention through partnership was reinforced through the delivery of a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) prevention projects induction. Hosted at the Foundation’s office in Melbourne, eight of the 12 community organisations whose programs were awarded funding attended the half-day workshop. Participants met with staff from other projects and the Foundation, shared ideas and discussed how to break down the barriers facing members of CALD communities seeking support. We wish the organisations every success with their projects and look forward to sharing in their learnings.
Our current advertising campaign, ‘The talk’, finishes on air at the end of the month, but our efforts to encourage parents to discuss gambling risks and potential harms with their kids is ongoing. The much anticipated launch of the 2018 AFL season is upon us, with new state and federal gambling advertising restrictions coming into effect, we’re also celebrating our partnerships with all 10 Victorian AFL clubs, who have committed to reduce exposure of their fans and members to sports betting. At the http://aflvic.com.au/season-launch-announcements we featured on a panel with White Ribbon, Fight MND and beyondblue. As part of AFL Victoria's commitment to address social issues affecting the community, each of these organisations will have state wide themed rounds during the 2018 season, including our very own 'Love The Game' round in July.
Visit our website for tips and information about interrupting the normalisation of gambling so kids can get back to enjoying sport as intended, for the love of the game.
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