CEO, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
This month the acting Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Martin Pakula, announced the Foundation has awarded 12 community organisations a total of $200,000 to develop new, targeted prevention projects for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities across the state. Research has shown that Victoria's CALD communities are at greater risk of gambling harm than the mainstream population due to the language and cultural barriers that prevent people from accessing support services. By funding projects at a community level we are assisting CALD groups to minimise the ripple effect of gambling harm. The Foundation will use insights from these projects to develop more tailored programs and services for these communities.
Gambling harm was a key issue explored at the recent International Gambling Conference hosted in Auckland, New Zealand. The Foundation’s Head of Research, Rosa Billi, and I attended the conference, which sought to 'flip the iceberg on gambling harm, mental health and co-existing issues'. Keynote speakers included World Health Organisation (WHO) representatives, as well as academics from the universities of London (UOL) and Hong Kong (UOHK). Vladimir Pznyak from WHO examined the public health implications of gambling, noting the recent fusion of gambling and gaming. Rebecca Cassidy from UOL explored gambling's ethical codes, how they came to be and how anthropology can uncover what underpins them. Samson Tse from UOHK made a presentation about the gambling related harm experienced by Chinese migrants, particularly when harm manifests in the form of mental health issues and what implications this has for social services.
Rosa Billi co-presented a session at the conference with Paul Marden from the Department of Justice and Regulation on the 'prevention paradox' – when the exposure of a large number of people to a small risk creates more cases of harm than a small number exposed to a higher risk. For the Foundation, this translates into a need to monitor the low, moderate and severe harm experienced by individuals. I used the conference as an opportunity to provide delegates with an insight into the Foundation's knowledge translation exchange by sharing with them how we channel our research findings into deliverables that improve the health of people and populations. Perhaps the most public facing example of this is our 2016 Harm Study, which has assisted the Foundation to create public awareness raising campaigns like Harm starts earlier than you think, and informed the development of our position on issues such as the proposed ban of gambling advertising during the broadcast of live sport.
The Foundation's submission to the inquiry into the Communications Legislation Amendment (Online Content Services and Other Measures) Bill 2017 was one of 14 submissions published on the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee’s website. The Committee provided its report to the Senate on 12 February 2018, recommending that parliament pass the bill to impose gambling promotions restrictions on online content service providers. The report referenced Foundation research, including Child and parent recall of gambling sponsorship in Australian sport and Gen Bet: Has gambling gatecrashed our teens?
Of particular concern to us is the impact on young people of prolific gambling advertising, which presents sports and betting as integrated activities. When something feels ‘normal’, the risks are often not considered. Young people, especially, don’t always realise the difference between ads and reality, and may be at risk of harm because they see betting as a quick, easy way to make money. The Foundation’s latest campaign, 'The talk', will make its debut across TV and radio next month, taking aim at the normalisation of gambling (the perception, primarily held by school aged children and young adults, that gambling is a normal and culturally accepted by-product of sport/gaming). The campaign encourages parents to have a conversation with their teenager about the risks and potential harms of sports betting. While campaigns tend to be a highly visible element of the Foundation’s awareness and prevention work, they are underpinned by ongoing research and, of course, our Love the Game Schools and Love the Game Sporting Club programs. To keep track of our progress, please subscribe to our mailing list.