When the Foundation was established in 2012, our core responsibility was to ensure that people negatively affected by gambling could access effective treatment and support services.
Since then, the scope of our work has broadened to include evidence-based awareness, prevention, early intervention, and education activities and programs.
Our role has expanded in response to, and informed by, our internationally recognised research program, which has led to a greater understanding of the complex nature of gambling harm.
Significantly, our response is being emulated around the world.
We now know, for example, that a person’s gambling behaviour and their experience of harm are influenced by a range of factors, including social, cultural, policy, legislative, economic, and environmental issues.
Yet gambling harm is a highly stigmatised issue that frequently leads to feelings of embarrassment, shame, low self-esteem, and guilt. This stigma acts as a barrier to help seeking.
Gambling harm is also associated with poorer health and wellbeing, not only of the individual who gambles, but for families, communities, and the general population.
The Foundation’s work seeks to address the range of gambling harms and to reach those who are at risk of, or already experiencing, harm. We do so in ways that are sensitive, appropriate, responsive to the needs of communities and that afford people dignity, respect, and self-determination.
In its report, Reducing the harm caused by gambling, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) has identified overarching themes for improvement that relate to embedding knowledge translation into Foundation programs and evaluating their effectiveness.
We have accepted VAGO’s eight recommendations and outlined how and when they will be addressed in this action plan. Much of the work will be informed by the outcomes-based framework the Foundation is already developing as a key priority in our 2020–21 business plan.
In particular, we take on board the challenge of evaluating the cost-effectiveness of our prevention programs, noting that we will be the first in the world to undertake such an evaluation in this relatively new field.
The Foundation has valued the opportunity to participate in the audit process. We take accountability for our important work very seriously and embrace opportunities to improve and strengthen our performance in working towards a Victoria free from gambling-related harm.