In this Q&A, Shane reflects on his first few weeks as CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and provides some insights into what’s important to him.
What have been your early impressions of the Foundation?
What I’ve been most impressed with is the commitment of people not only within the Foundation but also within our partner agencies and the stakeholders we engage with across the sector. I think there’s a real commonality of purpose amongst the people we work with to find effective ways to reduce gambling harm in Victoria. I’ve been impressed by the commitment and passion our staff and partners bring to their work.
What opportunities do you see for the Foundation to make a difference in the Victorian community in the next 12–18 months and beyond?
There’s a real conversation with the community that the Foundation has a central role in. Gambling harm doesn’t just exist at the extreme end of people experiencing difficulties. It exists across a spectrum, and includes a range of people who might not realise they are at risk from gambling harm, but the research indicates they may be at risk. I think there’s a conversation the Foundation can play a continuing role in to get people to really understand where gambling intersects with their life and their family.
What are your top priorities in addressing gambling harm?
I’d like to see us as a community become more cognisant of how prevalent gambling has become in our community conversation. The best example is going to sporting grounds and seeing a lot of signage about gambling and constant promotion. The normalisation of gambling is something we all need to address. Many of us can have a flutter on the Melbourne Cup – and there’s no harm in that – but there is a range of people who become attracted to gambling, and the normalisation of that has led to difficulty.
What part, if any, has gambling played in your life?
Very minimal. I am the clichéd person who has a flutter on the Melbourne Cup every November. I occasionally play a game of cards with friends but that’s pretty rare. So that’s my only exposure, I’m not really from a family who gambles regularly.
Who inspires you and why?
I’ve always been inspired by people, not necessarily high profile people, but people simply committed to their family, their work, and their community. This can include working in areas like homelessness, housing and gambling harm. They are sometimes struggling with very difficult issues. Some have even lived experience of difficult times, and now use that experience to help others.
No doubt you love the game, not the odds, but who do you barrack for?
I’m a Tigers tragic. I’ve supported Richmond since I was a young boy and was very fortunate to see them win premierships in the 1970s and 1980. We then had a 37-year drought and I felt very guilty making my three sons barrack for Richmond. So, it was great to see the Tiges win the 2017 premiership. I like to think I can be as passionate as any other Richmond supporter without having money riding on the outcome.