Young people are encouraged to spend more time with their family and friends, delete smartphone betting apps and avoid gambling clickbait as part of Bethany Community Support’s new project, ‘A Young Person’s Message’, launched in April as part of Youth Week.
Supported by social media animations and posters, the goals of the initiative are to teach students about the risks associated with gambling and create open discussions about the issue among young people.
Bethany Community Support worked with 15–25-year-olds in Hamilton, Warrnambool and Geelong as part of the project, with students from Geelong Technical Education Centre, Deakin University, South West TAFE and South Grampian Adult Education, as well as clients from Brophy Youth Services, participating in focus groups.
The project team listened to the participants’ views on how gambling harm among young people could be reduced and learnt how to communicate with them in a more meaningful way. This has added to the team’s understanding of youth gambling in rural and regional Victoria, as well as the influences that drive and shape gambling in these communities.
A Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation-funded study indicated that exposure to gambling advertising is higher among 13 to 16-year-olds than for adults. It also found that one in five adults who gamble in a problematic way started gambling before they were 18 years old.
Bethany Community Support CEO Grant Boyd said working with young people on ‘A Young Person’s Message’ had been an effective way to start a conversation about gambling harm.
“We found that peer pressure can be a big contributing factor because young people don’t want to miss out on the things their friends are doing,” Mr Boyd said.
“There is still a lot of stigma associated with gambling harm. However, when young people are in a setting where there is no judgement and conversation is open, they are happy to discuss their thoughts.”
Chief executive Shane Lucas said the Foundation had been delighted to support ‘A Young Person’s Message’ with a Prevention Partnership Program grant.
“Through this project, Bethany Community Support is playing an important role in helping young people, particularly those in regional communities, to better understand the risks involved with gambling.
“At the same time, it is helping to build community capacity to prevent harm from gambling in the local area, as well as letting people know that support is available,” Mr Lucas said.
For more information about ‘A Young Person’s Message’, visit www.facebook.com/bethanycommunitysupportvic.