If you've visited our website recently, you may have noticed some changes. Visitors now have access to two distinct sites through the home page: a dedicated Gambler's Help consumer site, which is complemented by the VRGF organisational site, focusing on who we are and what we do.
The new layout elevates Gambler's Help services for those seeking information about support for gambling harm and includes a new postcode search function that allows users to pinpoint Gambler's Help providers close to them. We were supported in this project by Gambler's Help agency staff and thank them for their input.
Results from the Foundation's 2017 community attitudes survey are now available on the revamped corporate site. The new, interactive Gambling in Victoria section houses statistics, information and analysis on gambling in Victoria, captures pokies data by local government area, and provides a snapshot of overriding community perceptions in relation to gambling and how it has changed over time.
Insights gained through the survey continue to inform the Foundation’s work to reduce and prevent gambling harm, overcome barriers to help seeking such as stigma and shame, and provide effective support services.
Earlier this month, Melbourne Football Club committed to exiting the electronic gaming industry, phasing out its reliance on pokies as a stream of revenue. Melbourne cited negative community sentiment towards pokies as one of the key drivers for its decision, following in the footsteps of North Melbourne Football Club, which divested itself of gaming machines in 2008.
It is encouraging to see renewed community appetite for big corporations, including the AFL, to flex their social responsibility muscle in relation to harm from gambling. We applaud Melbourne Football Club's bold decision and hope to see other clubs similarly reduce their reliance on revenue from pokies.
A new major study examining the impact gambling has on the health outcomes of Victorians has been announced by the Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz. The Foundation will partner with CQ University, providing $1 million to undertake research into emerging gambling products, consumer behaviours and gambling harm. The study will examine the gambling behaviour of 11,000 Victorians, gathering data on the prevalence of low, moderate and severe gambling. The project builds on previous studies conducted in 2008 and 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
The Foundation’s third biennial conference, Gambling harm: Taking action for change, will be hosted in the regional city of Geelong from 13 to 15 August, further demonstrating our commitment to non-metropolitan Victoria. The conference program will focus on five key themes, including one that explores the experiences of First Nations, which will be facilitated by Deputy Chair of the Foundation’s board, Belinda Duarte.
The importance of incorporating discussions about First Nations has been recognised by recent world leading public health conferences, including the Alberta Gambling Research Institute conference (Canada) and the International Gambling Conference (New Zealand), at which Foundation staff gave presentations. Addressing gambling harm in Aboriginal communities is a priority for the Foundation and I look forward to learning more about how we can support this work.
Finally, there have been a few changes to the Foundation’s board of directors. Late last month, we said goodbye to Deputy Chair Mary Anne Hartley after four years of service and welcomed new member Jim Pasinis. We also congratulated Belinda Duarte on her promotion to the position of Deputy Chair.
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