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Gambler's Help

Gambler's Help is a state-wide problem gambling service system that comprises a range of integrated services:

  • Local Gambler's Help services
  • Gambler's Help Line
  • Gambling Help Online
  • Services to Indigenous Victorians, and
  • Services to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities.

This section of the website provides information, guidance and resources to help health and welfare professionals identify people experiencing harm from their gambling and effectively respond to their needs.

What can I do?

Provide an effective response

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Gambler's Help

Gambler's Help is a free and confidential problem gambling service that offers a range of specialised counselling services to people experiencing harm from gambling as well as their partners and close family members across Victoria. This includes:

Gambler's Help Services

Gambler's Help is a free and confidential gambling service that offers a range of specialised counselling services to people with at risk or present with a gambling concern, as well as their partners and close family members across Victoria. The services include:

  • Therapeutic counselling
  • Financial counselling
  • Peer Connection Program
  • Chinese Peer Connection Program
  • Services for Indigenous Victorians
  • Therapeutic counselling Do you have a client that has identified as being affected by gambling?

    Gambler's Help therapeutic counselling incorporates a range of face-to-face and telephone services, including:

    • assessment
    • case planning
    • therapeutic interventions
    • practical assistance
    • crisis management
    • case and service management
    • advocacy and coordination
    • referral
    • secondary consultation

    Gambler's Help therapeutic counselling is case planned and tailored to your client's individual needs.

    Making referrals to Gambler's Help

    Many clients will feel uncomfortable about calling Gambler's Help services. As a Health and Welfare professional you can encourage them to make contact with the service by reassuring your client that the service is free and confidential, and that it is connected to mainstream health and welfare services.

    Consider sitting with your client while they make the call to Gambler's Help if this makes them feel more comfortable and supported. It is also important to follow up on your referral to see how things went.

    If your client requires continued support through your service for other issues, try to work cooperatively with Gambler's Help services as much as possible.

    What if my client refuses a referral to Gambler's Help services?

    If your client cannot be persuaded to attend Gambler's Help services, then your local Gambler's Help providers are able to work collaboratively with you and the client. This allows the client to maintain their primary relationship with you, whilst also receiving a specialist gambling service.

    Contact your local Gambler's Help service to explore the most appropriate response.

  • Financial counselling Do you have a client that has identified as being financially affected by gambling?

    Gambler's Help financial counselling and referring clients into the Gambler's Help program

    Gambler's Help provide face-to-face and telephone counselling and financial counselling services and has around 100 locations throughout the metropolitan area and across regional Victoria. For further information and advice please contact your local agency listed below which can link you to a site which is convenient for your client.

    You or your client can also contact the Gamblers Help Line for information and support on 1800 858 858. The help line does not provide financial counselling but can refer your client to their local Gambler's Help financial counselling service. Gambler's Help Line is available 24 hours per day and all services are free and confidential.

    Financial Counselling

    Alleviating an immediate financial crisis can be an important step in allowing your client to address their underlying gambling behaviour.

    What does financial counselling involve?

    Gambler's Help financial counsellors can help your client to understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities in relation to:

    • debt recovery
    • payment of bills, and
    • government concessions and entitlements.

    Making referrals to Gambler's Help

    Many clients may feel uncomfortable about calling Gambler's Help services. As a health and welfare professional you can encourage them to make contact with the service by reassuring them that the service is free and confidential, and that it is connected to mainstream health and welfare services.

    Consider sitting with your client while they make the call to Gambler's Help if this makes them feel more comfortable and supported. It is also important to follow up on your referral to see how things went.

    If your client requires continued support through your service for other issues, try to work cooperatively with Gambler's Help services as much as possible.

    What if my client declines a referral to Gambler's Help services?

    If your client does not want to attend Gambler's Help services, then your local Gambler's Help providers can still provide you with tools and information to help the client. This allows the client to maintain their primary relationship with you, whilst also receiving a specialist gambling service.

    Contact your local Gambler's Help service to explore the most appropriate response.

    Recovery Assistance Program

    Gambling related harm often has a significant impact on the financial stability of the person gambling and their families.

    Gambler's Help can provide limited material and financial assistance to individuals and families for essential living needs when problem gambling has resulted in financial crisis. The objectives of the Recovery Assistance Program are to provide assistance:

    • in a way that does not facilitate or subsidise gambling behaviour
    • where gamblers and their families are assessed as being in genuine need
    • that will contribute to essential living needs, and
    • to support individuals and families to recover from the impact of problem gambling.

    Only registered Gambler's Help clients are eligible for the Recovery Assistance Program.

  • Peer Connection Program Peer Connection is a confidential, anonymous, telephone peer-support program staffed by volunteers.

    The program provides over-the-phone peer support to people who are experiencing gambling problems as well as to their partners and close family members.

    How it works

    Callers can make direct contact with a peer connections program or give other professionals their consent to refer them to the program. Interested individuals are assessed by the intake team and/or the Peer Connection program coordinator and matched with an appropriate volunteer.

    Volunteers make calls weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on the caller's needs. Where possible, callers maintain contact with the same volunteer throughout their contact with the service.

    Volunteers

    All of the Peer Connection Program volunteers have had experience in successfully dealing with their own gambling problem or have successfully worked through the impact of someone else's gambling problem.

    Lifeline provides comprehensive training to all volunteers. Volunteers also receive supervision, debriefing and ongoing support from the program coordinator. 

    For more information, visit: www.peerconnection.org.au

  • Chinese Peer Connection Program The Chinese Peer Connection program was developed to service the Chinese problem gambling community and their families.

    • State-wide and confidential
    • Complimentary to counselling or group work with existing services
    • Beneficial to clients who are going through the transition of life after gambling.

    How are the volunteers selected?

    Volunteers are selected for their personal experience with problem gambling; either their own or a family members. They have worked through their own issues related to gambling behaviour and have been assessed for their suitability to offer support to others. All the volunteers are fluent in the Chinese language and some are bi-lingual. 

    Training of volunteers

    All the volunteers have undergone a minimum of six weeks training specifically on telephone peer support and awareness around problem gambling related issues. The training is delivered in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Individual supervision and ongoing training remains for the duration of the volunteer's involvement in the program. 

    How does the program work?

    • The client may be referred by their counsellor or health worker or may contact the Program Coordinator direct
    • An assessment is made to establish the suitability of the client to the Chinese Peer Connection program
    • This program is not suitable for people in immediate crisis.  Clients in immediate crisis will be appropriately referred
    • The coordinator will match the client with the most appropriate volunteer and an appointment time will be established
    • The volunteer then makes the call to the client at the scheduled time
    • Further calls are arranged to suit the client
    • Every effort is made to accommodate the needs of the client in regard to appointment times.
    Chinese Peer Connection Program brochure

  • Services for Indigenous Victorians Aboriginal Gambler’s Help services provide support for Aboriginal people and communities affected by gambling.

    Harm from gambling is common in both the wider community and the Aboriginal community. Yet it may not always be easy to recognise.

    Harm can include financial problems, arguments with family, involvement with police and emotional distress. A person experiencing harm from gambling may also be having difficulties with mental health, alcoholism or family violence, which can make it hard to see gambling in the mix. Harm may be experienced by the person who gambles, their family, or within the wider community.

    Asking these questions may help identify if someone is experiencing gambling harm:

    • ‘Does gambling cause arguments at home?’
    • ‘Do you, or someone you know, ever go back another day to try to win back money lost?’
    Find out more about services available to Aboriginal people and communities

Gambler's Help Programs

Gambler's Help is a free and confidential gambling service that offers a range of specialised counselling services to people with a gambling concern as well as their partners and close family members across Victoria.

For health and welfare professionals, Gamblers Help provide a range of services for health and welfare professionals.

  • Training for professionals Do you want training in how to recognise, diagnose and refer clients that present with gambling concern?

    The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation run workshops, forums and training sessions for the following groups of health and welfare professionals:

    • general practitioners
    • primary and allied health providers, in both public and private practice, and
    • professionals in the community welfare and justice systems.

    This training covers:

    • at risk and problem gambling interventions and casework practices
    • development and implementation of referral and service coordination protocols, and
    • introduction of screening practices.

    What is this training important to me?

    Analysis of gamblers help service data reveals low rates of referrals from other workers in the helping professions to gamblers help services. This training delivered by therapeutic and financial counsellors is intended to increase the awareness and skills of these professionals to identify and provide appropriate responses to people experiencing gambling related harm when they present to other services.

  • Partnerships and collaboration Gambler's Help Services can support you to ensure there is an integrated care approach for your client.

    What can Gambler's Help services offer?

    Gambler's Help therapeutic counsellors offer specialist problem gambling services for health and welfare workers who deal with clients experiencing co-presenting issues via:

    • Outreach services to agencies already engaging with clients experiencing gambling related harm
    • Specialist secondary consultation
    • Specialist clinical at risk and problem gambling interventions in relevant service settings
    • New practice and clinical approaches, including single session and co-counselling, and
    • Training and skills development.

    Where possible, services are co-located with other relevant health and welfare services to encourage a holistic approach to case management and referral.

    Why is this service important to me?

    The Gambler's Help program aims to develop strong links between the problem gambling and the identified priority service portfolio areas for individual and families experiencing gambling related harm.

    Where problem gambling is identified within other special service systems, it is not likely to be the most significant presenting issue for the individual or for the worker. Referral to Gamblers Help services is more likely to result in non-attendance and/or early drop out for this cohort.

    Gambler's Help therapeutic counsellors offer flexible service options for people affected by gambling problems, and enables clients to maintain their primary therapeutic relationship whilst still receiving specialist problem gambling intervention (e.g. Gambler's Help therapeutic counsellors can see a client in mental health, alcohol and other drug (AOD), family services or justice settings, participate in co-therapy, provide secondary consultations or support referred clients).

    This provides an opportunity for innovative practice through the improvement of partnerships and collaboration for common client groups.

    Problem gambling is often just one factor within a complex array of interpersonal, intrapersonal and health issues experienced by your client. To find out more about co-presenting issues and co-morbid issues, please read further below.

    Program structure

    Specialist counsellors deliver services for each of the portfolio areas, as well as to other priority groups. The types of services/areas that the program may target include:

    Mental Health

    Services in this portfolio include specialist public mental health services, both clinical (Area Mental Health Services) and non-clinical (Psychiatric Disability Rehabilitation and Support Services), generalist counselling dealing with high prevalence mental health issues (depression and anxiety) within community health and private practice (as brokered by General Practitioners, for example).

    Family Services

    This portfolio includes working with family support services, family violence services, and services providing support to people around parenting and relationship issues.

    Alcohol and Drug

    Services in this portfolio include the array of services funded by the Department of Health.

    Justice System

    Services in this portfolio include the correctional systems such as the courts, correctional facilities and youth justice systems.

    Co-presenting issues and co-morbid issues

    Typically, problem gambling does not occur in isolation. It may arise from (and give rise to) a range of other co-presenting and co-morbid issues, including:

    • depression
    • anxiety
    • alcohol and drug issues
    • ill-health
    • domestic violence
    • homelessness
    • financial hardship
    • legal problems
    • unemployment, and
    • relationship breakdown.

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