Criminal Justice and Corrections Project
There is growing evidence of the significant impact of gambling upon the legal system. Research tells us around 30% of prisoners have an issue with gambling, with many cycling through periods of incarceration without it being identified or treated. A recent report into gambling and the legal system identified it as a potential ‘sleeper issue’ contributing to social disadvantage.
Another study found disproportionate levels of gambling-related harm among people seeking treatment for mental illness and uncertainty among the clinicians treating them on how to respond. Supported by this evidence, Gambler’s Help services across Victoria continue to engage in a huge variety of work in this space. Progress is being made both through clinical and integrated service activity work with some significant recent wins.
Talks are also progressing with parts of the corrections system to investigate how harm from gambling is being addressed. An initiative has been proposed to a) investigate existing gambling-related attitudes and clinical practices and b) develop and pilot some best-practice collaborative screening, referral and treatment procedures.
The core elements are:
- Disseminate an adapted clinician questionnaire (from Turning Point’s ‘co-morbidity report’) to corrections-based professionals and conduct some semi-structured interviews with key staff.
- Examine the findings and, together with representatives from all the relevant stakeholders, consider what may assist with the detection and treatment of harm from gambling.
- Pilot subsequent initiatives for a period of time. Keep records of relevant data and review.
The above is designed to engage with the justice system and generate findings that can help further the conversation about harm from gambling.