New services for culturally diverse communities and a better service system for all Victorians are the key features of a brand new model for gambling help services unveiled by the Minister for Liquor and Gaming Regulation, Edward O'Donohue today.
The minister, along with Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo, launched the new services which aim to improve the flexibility and accessibility of gambling help services.
"I'm very pleased to say the new services launched today will reinforce Victoria's position as a leader in addressing problem gambling," said Minister O'Donohue.
Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo says making it easier for people to reach out for help was the driving factor behind the service changes.
"Our counsellors were telling us we needed to adopt a 'no wrong door' policy and streamline referral and appointment booking processes.
"To do this, we've aligned our service catchments with other health and human services providers, appointed a lead service provider in each catchment and are strengthening relationships between services," he said.
New multilingual services are a feature of the new service model with six agencies to provide tailored, culturally appropriate services including multilingual counselling and community education.
Mr Sardo says the agencies will provide counselling to the Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic speaking communities, building on their existing programs and experience.
"Many of these agencies have been part of their communities for 20 years or more, providing welfare and health support services.
"They understand that while the barriers to seeking help differ from culture to culture, some of the common factors include language barriers and stigma as well as cultural barriers like a lack of familiarity with the western concept of counselling," he said.
Mr Sardo says the research also tells us that the migrant experience can also increase a person's risk of developing a problem with gambling.
"We know that social isolation and trauma are risk factors along with boredom, stress and depression and these are certainly factors in our diverse communities that we need to cater for," he said.
While these agencies will focus on their communities, Gambler's Help Services will continue to provide culturally appropriate support to members of all Victorian communities.
The Foundation is also offering free gambling counselling training to multilingual counsellors already working in these communities through its Professional Development Centre.
For a full list of Gambler's Help agencies and the new CALD agencies go to In-language counselling