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Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2023: community events wrap-up

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Each year the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation encourages partners to host local Gambling Harm Awareness Week events to start community conversations that aim to reduce the stigma associated with gambling harm and promote help seeking. This year, the focus was on how to have a conversation with someone who is at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling harm and to support them to get back on track.

This page features some of the innovative ways our partners in metropolitan and regional Victoria brought communities together during the week of 16–22 October to Talk. Share. Support.

Anglicare Victoria

17 October 2023, ReSPIN lived experience presentation, The Salvation Army, Bendigo

Anglicare - Bendigo - ReSpin

Above: ReSPIN speaker Ian.

Anglicare’s Gambler’s Help community engagement workers were joined by ReSPIN lived experience speaker Ian for a presentation to the participants of The Salvation Army’s Bridge Program, which supports people recovering from addiction.

Ian’s recollections of the gambling harm, secretiveness, shame, and stigma he experienced resonated deeply with audience members, who were eager to learn how he overcame these issues, restored relationships, and rebuilt his life. In fact, such was the level of audience engagement that Ian has agreed to return every three months to talk to this group.

(Story c/o Joanne Parker, Community Engagement Worker, Gambler’s Help North Central)

19 October 2023, Mental Health & Wellbeing Expo at Hopwood Gardens, Echuca

Anglicare - Echuca (2)

Above: Anglicare Victoria’s Gambler’s Help stall in Echuca.

Anglicare’s Gambler’s Help team joined a host of services at this popular expo, which promotes community education about, builds awareness of, and provides advocacy for, mental health in the region. Many visitors to Anglicare’s stall commented that gambling is a big issue in the Campaspe area. Other stall holders helped to raise awareness of Gambler’s Help services to new contacts and re-engaged with existing stakeholders.

(Story c/o Joanne Parker, Community Engagement Worker, Gambler’s Help North Central)

Banyule Community Health (BCH), IPC Health and The Salvation Army

18 October 2023, Online gambling harm trivia for pokies venue staff

Banyule Trivia

BCH, IPC Health and The Salvation Army venue support workers collaborated to host an online trivia event for staff from pokies venues in Melbourne’s inner north, north and southwest. Their knowledge of gambling harm was put to the test for the opportunity to win a range of vouchers donated by the venues. One participant commented, ‘It was a great event. Very entertaining and engaging. Looking forward to next year.’

(Story c/o Elissa Wray, Senior Advisor, Early Intervention, VRGF)

Better Health Network

10 October 2023, HALT Gambling Harm program launch, Chisolm TAFE, Frankston

BHN - Chisolm - HALT

Above: Chisholm TAFE staff and apprentices at the launch of HALT Gambling Harm.

Gambler’s Help Southern partnered with Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT) to launch a new program that aims to reduce gambling harm among the high-risk group of men aged 18–25.

HALT is a grass-roots suicide prevention charity focused on educating and supporting tradies and apprentices. The HALT Gambling Harm program brings education and support services directly to worksites and trade schools to promote mental health and wellbeing and raise awareness about the negative effects of gambling.

(Story c/o King Ikedichukwu Ewelike, Community Engagement Officer, Better Health Network)

14 October 2023, No pokies, yes karaoke!, Melaleuca Community Hub, Clarinda

BHN - Kingston - karaoke

The Unified Filipino Elderly Group from Melbourne’s south-east participated in a special Gambling Harm Awareness Week event called No pokies, yes karaoke! supported by Kingston City Council.

The event was a fantastic way to engage older members of the community in discussions about gambling harm and the important role they can play in talking to young people about the risks.

ReSPIN lived experience speaker Carolyn shared her journey from gambling addiction to recovery with the help of therapeutic counselling. And Gambler’s Help Southern community engagement worker Claire Emmanuel provided insights into the extent of gambling losses in Victoria, the effects of gambling harm on the broader community, and the help available to anyone affected by gambling harm.

20 October 2023, Enough is Enough: stories of gambling harm brought to stage, Hampton Community Centre, Hampton

BHN - Bayside - Enough is Enough

Above: Community theatre group Enough is Enough.

Bayside community members explored themes of gambling harm and recovery with a performance by community theatre group Enough is Enough. The local production, which was written and devised by award-winning playwright Kieran Carroll, examined the harmful effects of gambling.

Better Health Network’s Gambler’s Help team was supported by Bayside City Council to host the event, which included a lively post-performance discussion on issues such as stigma, signs of gambling harm, and how parents can help young people to avoid harm from gambling.

(Stories c/o Claire Emmanuel, Community Engagement Officer, Better Health Network)

Child and Family Services (Cafs)

17 October 2023, Gambling Harm Prevention Task Force event, Ballarat Town Hall, Ballarat

Cafs - Ballarat

The Gambling Harm Prevention Task Force is a partnership between Cafs, the City of Ballarat, Ballarat East Neighbourhood House and Ballarat Community Health.

This year, the Task Force’s Gambling Harm Awareness Week event brought together a broad cross-section of the local community – and more than twice as many people as the previous year – to Talk. Share. Support.

Foundation Lived Experience Advisory Committee (LEX) member Lynda Genser was instrumental in planning the event, which featured a moving performance by lived-experience theatre group Three Sides of the Coin and rousing presentations by City of Ballarat Mayor, Councillor Des Hudson, and therapeutic counsellor Anthony Varenica. In addition, ReSpin speaker Dan and LEX member Shayne Rodgers participated in an engaging panel discussion.

(Story c/o Linda Borner, Gambler’s Help Community Engagement Officer, Cafs)

EACH – Chinese Peer Connection (CPC)

19 October 2023, Information stall, Rowville Community Centre, Rowville

CPC - Rowville

CPC held a pop-up information stall at the Rowville Community Centre during a sporting event attended by a large number of people from the Chinese community. The stall attracted many curious visitors, who stopped to talk about gambling harm and gave CPC an opportunity to distribute Chinese language booklets about the harmful effects of pokies and the impact on Chinese community groups.

22 October 2023, Outdoor information stall, community event, Box Hill

CPC - Box Hill

CPC’s stall at a Box Hill community event engaged members of the local Chinese community in conversations about gambling harm and the support services that are available. Despite persistent wind and rain, an SBS Chinese reporter live streamed interviews with a CPC volunteer, program coordinator, Gambler’s Help counsellor, and financial counsellor.

26 October 2023, Games night, Glen Waverley

CPC - Monash library

A games night at Monash Library provided a fun and relaxed environment for CPC to engage with members of the Chinese community in conversations about gambling harm while playing board games, including mahjong.

(Stories c/o Wing‑Yin Ivy Wong, Chinese Peer Connection Program Coordinator / AOD counsellor)

Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) and Anglicare Victoria

24 October 2023, Gambling Harm Awareness Day, MDAS Community Hall, Mildura

AV + MDAS - Mildura

About 50 First Nations people from the Mildura district attended this awareness day, where they were encouraged to have conversations about the effects of gambling harm with MDAS or Anglicare staff. Conversation participants were eligible to enter a raffle for a range of prizes, including household goods, an Aboriginal artwork, and a meat tray.

The group setting provided a safe space for community members to share their perspectives and opinions on gambling, with several people stating they felt safe and heard at the event. Both agencies reported that community members felt safe to disclose their personal experiences of gambling harm, with one participant saying, ‘we really appreciate other organisations taking the time to show their support. Taking the time to get to know us and be friends with us so we know where to go.’

Attendees were provided goody bags containing merchandise, brochures and information about support services to take away.

(Story c/o Mansueta (Manny) Liousas, Community Engagement Worker, Gambler’s Help North Central)

Primary Care Connect (PCC)

17 October 2023, ‘100 Cuppas’ community drop-in sessions, Shepparton Senior Citizens Centre and Taste of Capri restaurant, Mooroopna

PCC - 100 cuppas

Above: Gambler's Help community engagement workers Arkid Shirokaj and Freddy Thuruthikattu.

PCC joined other community support organisations at the Shepparton Senior Citizens Centre for a drop-in session for locals affected by recent floods. Hosted by Greater Shepparton City Council, the event provided locals an opportunity to learn about PCC and Gambler’s Help support services, as well as other local service providers. In nearby Mooroopna, a Gambler’s Help info booth at local restaurant, Taste of Capri, similarly helped raise awareness of gambling support services among flood-affected residents.

20 October 2023, Gambler’s Help Drumbeats session, Yitjawudik Recovery Centre, Toolamba

PCC - Drumbeats

Above: Arkid Shirokaj and Freddy Thuruthikattu participate in the Drumbeats session.

A group drumming activity was a terrific way to break the ice and start conversations about gambling among clients at the Yitjawudik Recovery Centre in Toolamba. The centre supports people having issues with alcohol and other drugs and has long partnered with PCC to host discussions about gambling harm.

(Stories c/o Freddy Thuruthikattu, Gambler's Help Community Engagement Worker, Primary Care Connect)


16 October 2023, Pop-up stall, Surf Coast Shire Youth Space, Torquay

Meli - Surf Coast Youth Hub

Above: Meli’s Gambler’s Help team proudly display Gambler’s Harm Awareness Week merch.

Meli’s Gambler’s Help program hosted a pop-up stall at the Surf Coast Shire’s Youth Space to provide young people with an opportunity to talk about the normalisation of gaming and gambling and associated harms. Visitors to the stall were provided with information and encouraged to discuss the topic with their parents/carers. Attendees at the youth space were able to chat to therapeutic and financial counsellors. One young person shared that he struggles with his emotions while playing video games. Another young person said he recognised the gambling elements in some video games.

Read more:

(Story c/o Anabel Mackenzie, Team Leader, Health Promotion and Prevention, Gambler’s Help, Meli)

Springvale Indo-Chinese Mutual Assistance Association (SICMAA)

17–20 October 2023, Various group activities, Springvale


SICMAA hosted four events for members of the Springvale Indo-Chinese community to come together and talk about gambling harm. Activities included an adult exercise class, yoga class, group walk in a park and a BBQ lunch. Each activity provided an opportunity for participants to learn about the importance of having conversations about gambling, plus a great way to make new friends and try alternative activities to gambling.

(Stories c/o Bic Gresty, SICMAA)

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