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Light in the COVID-19 tunnel

As many of you will be aware, the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence (Crown Melbourne) commenced public hearings on 24 March 2021.

The Foundation was invited to make a submission that addressed harms from gambling experienced in a casino context as identified by our funded research into people affected by gambling and by specific gambling products. This included an anonymous case study that illustrated the evidence base of our submission and acknowledged that the lived experience perspective is essential to further development of effective programs, policies and services to reduce gambling harm and address stigma.

We are now preparing our final submission, which we hope will support the Commission to formulate recommendations that will further our vision of a Victoria free from gambling harm.

Read more about our work for the Royal Commission here.

Telehealth here to stay

The rapid transition to telehealth counselling last year was challenging for all our funded partners. The most recent lockdown in Victoria highlighted that telehealth counselling is here to stay, and that it is a positive development. The Foundation has invested in telehealth that is an accessible, effective and ‘connecting’ experience, and has established a monthly online telehealth Community of Practice (CoP) meeting. This offers our partners’ clinical managers a platform to share existing best practices and learn from experienced online practitioners.

The Foundation has invested in telehealth that is a … ‘connecting’ experience.

Professor David C. Hodgins from the Program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Calgary and a coordinator with the Alberta Gambling Research Institute spoke to one CoP session about telehealth and online treatments.

Closer to home, Fiona Griffith, a clinical counsellor and educator, ‘zoomed’ in to discuss the ethics of online counselling. She told the group that agencies are reporting engaging online with clients who had previously been reluctant to form face-to-face relationships. She firmly believes that the inclusivity of a client-centred approach can be further enabled by technology.

In another example of the vital harnessing of technology, the Foundation is well down the path of creative development for our Incolink Apprentices digital campaign. As part of our strategic partnership with Incolink – enhanced by a $600,000 Victorian Government’s 2018 State Election commitment to expanding the partnership - we are working to engage a cohort of young people (primarily men) who are very active users of digital and social media.

In order to prevent and reduce harm from gambling among construction industry workers and apprentices aged 18–26, a multi-channel digital campaign is being designed to destigmatise the conversation about gambling risk, and provide skills to apprentices to identify gambling-related activity that is potentially harmful to both themselves and their peers.

Many in the target audience [are] inclined to have a drink while they bet.

The campaign will focus on harm reduction, with the title ‘A guide to better betting’. The first campaign stage will focus on drinking while betting. With many in the target audience inclined to have a drink while they bet, the campaign will aim to reduce gambling harm and also establish trust. The campaign will look to demonstrate the well-established truth that drinking can affect your ability to make good choices.

We’re very proud of our many partnerships and our strategic direction -- underpinned by research – to prevent gambling harm in Victoria. Within the dark pandemic ‘tunnel’, there is also some light, and it comes from innovation, agility and the strength of fellowship.

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