Under the themes of ‘Gambling harm: don’t play it down’ and ‘Talk. Share. Support.’ residents of the ACT and Victoria are being encouraged to discuss the often hidden and highly stigmatised issue of gambling harm.
Gambling Harm Awareness Week, 8–14 October 2018 in the ACT and Victoria, provides an opportunity to talk openly about what gambling harm is, how it affects the community, what can be done to prevent it, and how to support those affected by it.
Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Board Chair Julie Ligeti today said that community conversations were central to raising awareness about the early signs of gambling harm and empowering those affected to seek assistance.
“The most obvious form of gambling harm is financial, but people experience harm in a variety of ways that can have a substantial impact on, for example, their self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life,” Ms Ligeti said.
“Embarrassment and shame are common responses to gambling harm that can act as a barrier to dealing with it, so it’s critical to ensure that people affected know they are not alone and that a range of supports is available.
“Personal stories of recovery told by people who have lived experience of gambling harm are especially inspiring for individuals, as well as affected others, such as family members and friends.”
ACT Gambling and Racing Commission Chairperson Paul Baxter said that while harms from gambling might seem small initially – niggling feelings of guilt for prioritising a gambling activity over spending time with family, for example – they can escalate quickly.
“Gambling harm can take hold a lot earlier than people realise, so during Gambling Harm Awareness Week we highlight the importance of paying attention to those little alarm bells and acting on them early, rather than playing them down,” Mr Baxter said.
“Talking – and listening – are key to the success of any prevention, early intervention or treatment and support strategy to reduce gambling harm.
“We are all members of a community. Together, we can all play a role in destigmatising what is a very real and significant issue for some people in our lives and communities – family, friends, workmates, neighbours, acquaintances and others.
“We recognise the importance of working together across jurisdictions and we are committed to help reduce gambling harm in our communities.”
For more information about Gambling Harm Awareness Week in Victoria and the ACT, visit responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/harmweek or act.gov.au/dontplayitdown. Or share your activities on social media using #GamblingHarm or #TalkShareSupport.