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Hard work and clear speaking

Shane Lucas

It has been an eventful few months for the Foundation and for our partners and stakeholders working to reduce and prevent gambling harm in Victoria.

On 26 October, the Royal Commission Report into the Casino Operator and Licence was tabled in the Victorian Parliament.

The Victorian Government moved immediately to implement nine of the Commission's 33 recommendations and expressed in principle support for the remaining 24, subject to further detailed analysis and consultation. The government also announced the creation of a new regulatory entity, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), to commence on 1 January 2022.

The Foundation provided three submissions and two witness statements to the Commission, and Rosa Billi (Branch Head of Research & Evaluation) and I appeared before Raymond Finkelstein QC to give evidence in early June.

As the process of reform continues, I am confident the Foundation will play an important role, working closely with the VGCCC, in implementing those recommendations that go to reducing and preventing gambling harm.

‘I am confident the Foundation will play an important role.’

Gambling Harm Awareness Week took place from 18 to 24 October. Events were conducted online, giving more people the opportunity to attend from further afield – one of the silver linings of the pandemic.

‘Talk. Share. Support’ was again the all-encompassing theme of the week, while neuroscience was the focus of the Foundation’s coinciding campaign and centred on understanding the effects gambling has on the brain. We were very fortunate to have Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, a neuroscientist from the University of Melbourne, not only front this campaign but to also bring his brand of clear speaking about complex matters to the Foundation’s launch event. Read more.

The Foundation’s other significant Gambling Harm Awareness Week event, ‘Gambling harm is complicated’, highlighted studies conducted by Foundation-funded researchers into experiences of gambling harm among diverse at-risk groups. Read more.

‘Talk. Share. Support’ was again the all-encompassing theme of the week.

Gambler's Help, EACH, Child and Family Service Ballarat, Arabic Welfare, the Mental Health Professionals’ Network, and Turning Point also hosted compelling events. Topics from the lived experience of gambling harm through to elder abuse, young people and eSafety, stigma, sports betting, mental health and comorbidity were covered by a diverse range of speakers.

The Foundation’s final event this year was again held online. On 9 December, we launched our second Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which covers the period November 2021 to November 2023. Read more.

Reconciliation Australia (RA) tells us that we are one of 1100 corporate, government, and not-for-profit organisations that has an action plan for reconciliation. Further, almost three million people in Australia either work or study in an organisation with a RAP.

The Foundation’s staff and board are committed to learning more and doing more. The RAP’s emphasis on relationships, respect, and opportunities provides us with a framework within which to foster connections with First Nations people based on collaboration and trust. That begins with the First Nations communities and organisations with which we work. They provide leadership and guidance and bring a spirit of teamwork to our mutual endeavours. It’s our privilege to work with them.

‘The RAP’s emphasis on relationships, respect, and opportunities provides us with a framework…’

With a mix of excitement and trepidation, Victorians are approaching a holiday season with more opportunities to connect with loved ones than we enjoyed a year ago.

On behalf of the Foundation, I thank you for your engagement with the challenge of gambling harm throughout 2021 and hope you and your families and friends enjoy a rejuvenating break.

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