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Partner News - December 2023


Season's greetings from the Foundation

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Above: Community engagement partners joined Foundation staff in North Melbourne for the annual community engagement network session last week.

So much has been achieved in 2023! The Foundation is proud to work with our partners, who have again delivered an impressive range of programs to prevent and reduce gambling harm in communities across Victoria.

From podcast challenges to hip-hop dancing and karaoke, it is always inspiring to see the creative and engaging ways our partners bring people together to improve awareness of gambling harm, promote help seeking, and deliver innovative resources and tools. It was a delight to spend a day with our partners to celebrate these initiatives and other achievements at the community engagement network session last week (read more in Foundation news below).

Strengthening our professional networks across and between sectors and building essential skills have remained priorities, with our Gambling Harm in Mind Knowledge Series showcasing the latest research and other specialist training delivered to support day-to-day work.

We thank you for your ongoing support and your shared commitment to addressing harm from gambling. It is a privilege to work with passionate, professional, and hard-working colleagues, and we look forward to doing it all again next year.

Wishing you a safe and happy festive season.

Heidi Rose, Branch Head, Prevention & Programs

In this edition

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Community engagement news

Connecting with Country helps First Nations women get away from gambling environments

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Above: (Left) Attendees from the women’s cultural empowerment camp display a hand-made possum cloak. (Right) Jasmine Versteeg wearing the possum cloak.

Jasmine Versteeg, Gambling Awareness Support Worker at Health Services Mildura, ran a three-day women’s cultural empowerment camp in Swan Hill for Aunties and First Nations women in October. Designed to help women connect to Country and get away from gambling environments, the event included a jewellery-making workshop, bush walking, clap stick burning, yarning, and – Jasmine’s favourite activity – creating a beautiful possum cloak from the skins of 20 Tasmanian possums. The event was organised in collaboration with Health Services Mildura and Yilm, an organisation run by three generations of First Nations women who love camping on Country with mob.

The Salvation Army Gambler’s Help celebration event

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On 7 December, the Gambler’s Help team from The Salvation Army's Melbourne Counselling Service launched their new webpage, Facebook page and newsletters. Held at their Bourke Street office, the event was well attended by several Foundation-funded partners, local organisations and community members. The service team’s intake officer shared insights into her role, including providing intake support and delivering art therapy workshops to complement the therapeutic and financial counselling offered to clients affected by gambling harm. A case study by a Gambler’s Help financial counsellor and therapeutic counsellor demonstrated how they work together to support complex cases. Other engaging presentations highlighted the diverse range of community engagement work that the team delivers across the Inner Northern Melbourne catchment area. Congratulations to The Salvation Army!

EACH provides venue staff with an opportunity to learn and engage

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Above (L to R): Nick Olney (EACH), Rose Spizicca (VGCCC), Jacqui Meagher (DJCS), Hamish Richardson (EACH) and Renee O’Neill (DJCS).

EACH Community Health venue support workers Nick Olney and Hamish Richardson organised and hosted a venue management forum at the Box Hill RSL on 4 December. The quarterly forum is a training and engagement opportunity for management and staff from pokies venues in inner and outer eastern catchments.

More than 40 attendees participated in the training, which included an update from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) on venue requirements for harm minimisation and a Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) education session on the self-exclusion program YourPlay. Attendees were welcome to ask questions of the presenters throughout.

The next forum will be held on 5 March 2024. It will focus on drug-affected patrons with a special presentation by paramedics from Ambulance Victoria.

For more information, please contact Elissa Wray, Senior Advisor Industry Engagement, at

In conversation with Rekha Devdas

Rekha Devdas chatted to Partner News about her unique role as Intake and Promotion Officer with the Gambler’s Help program at Latrobe Community Health Service (LCHS), and her passion for supporting clients and promoting Gambler’s Help services.

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  • Tell us about your role

    As Intake and Promotion Officer for the entire Gippsland area, my role is unique in that it requires me to wear two very different hats. As an intake officer, I am the first point of contact for clients engaging with Gambler’s Help services. My work involves providing clients with the support they need to take the first important step of seeking help.

    In my promotion role, I work alongside the Gambler’s Help community engagement officer and partnership coordinator to promote our services internally and externally. This involves building relationships with stakeholders and consumers across the catchment, representing the team at local events, and networking with providers.

  • What do you enjoy about your role?

    I love that every day is different. Since starting in the role in August 2023, I have enjoyed working closely with my team to build awareness of our gambling support services, both within LCHS and the wider community. I am passionate about supporting our clients and promoting what we can offer, so it motivates me when I see an increase in referrals due to the work I am doing with my team.

  • What has been a highlight of your role so far?

    Gambling Harm Awareness Week was packed with lots of events and external engagement activities. We took the opportunity to highlight our services across all LCHS sites via the intranet and engaged in meaningful conversations with other service teams about the importance of starting conversations with their clients about gambling harm. We saw a spike in the number of referrals to Gambler’s Help from other LCHS services following these initiatives.

  • What's next?

    As I grow more comfortable in the role, I will continue to foster the connections with external stakeholders and upskill myself.

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Foundation news

Community engagement network session

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Above: Arkid Shirokaj and Freddy Thuruthikattu from Primary Care Connect demonstrate how they facilitate their DrumBeats Program for vulnerable groups.

Community engagement staff from all 11 Gambler’s Help services came together on 6 December for the annual community engagement network session. The hybrid, all-day session proved once again to be a wonderful forum for the Foundation and our partners to catch up, share insights, and celebrate our achievements from the past year. These included:

  • highlights from Gambler’s Help community engagement work with specific target groups such as young people, TAFE students and vulnerable community members
  • a presentation by First Person Consulting on the key findings from the second interim evaluation report on the Community Engagement Program
  • an update by the Foundation on the Be Ahead of the Game school education program, including evaluation data and updates on the resources being developed or updated for the 2024 school year
  • ReSPIN case studies showing the benefits of lived experience voices in various contexts, including First Nations communities and mental health/youth services.

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to this valuable and enjoyable session.

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Training and professional development

Building cultural competency: Aboriginal gambling yarning cards

Wednesday, 13 December 2023, 1–3 pm (online)

Gambler’s Help staff are invited to join this session to:

  • improve their understanding of the effects of gambling harm on First Nations communities
  • build competency in First Nations client engagement
  • learn how to facilitate a yarning circle using Aboriginal gambling yarning cards.

Ashley Gordon, a leader in training and consulting First Nations communities, has developed Aboriginal gambling yarning cards to be used in yarning circles. They are designed to stimulate discussion about sensitive and important issues related to gambling.

If you are interested in learning more or participating in this training, please contact Eithne McGettrick, Coordinator, Sector Development Hub at

Including Gambling regulators in client and systemic advocacy

Wednesday, 31 January 2024, 10 am–12.30 pm

This session for financial counsellors will provide opportunities to learn about the various gambling industry regulators, their limitations and abilities, and how to use a regulator to create systemic change as well as positive outcomes for individual clients.

Upon completion of this session, participants will:

  • understand the various national and state regulators and how to use them in your financial counselling work
  • understand the impact of system advocacy and individual client complaints when regulators and financial counsellors work together
  • have the skills to support a client experiencing gambling harm through a complaint to a gambling regulator
  • have the ability to document and follow a complaint to regulators through to the resolution stage.

This session is hosted by Financial Counselling Victoria and is open to registered members only.

Mental health comorbidity and gambling harm

Thursday, 7 March 2024, 10 am–12.30 pm

This session for financial counsellors will provide an overview of how mental health conditions and treatment options can affect the financial counselling of individuals and affected others who are experiencing gambling harm.

Upon completion of this session, participants will:

  • better understand co-existing mental health conditions and diagnosis
  • understand the effect co-existing mental health conditions can have on someone’s gambling behaviour
  • have the ability to develop practical strategies to support clients with mental health conditions
  • understand appropriate referral pathways and support services for clients, family and friends.

This session is hosted by Financial Counselling Victoria and is open to registered members only.

Using motivational interviewing techniques with gambling harm clients

Monday, 27 May 2024, 10 am–4 pm

Financial counsellors working in gambling harm programs report that clients will often disengage from counselling services during support.

Motivational interviewing techniques can help keep clients engaged by exploring and resolving a client's resistance to change and help counsellors understand the client's motivation to change.

The session will work through case studies, provide opportunities to practice motivational interviewing techniques, and offer strategies for effective client-centred advice.

This session is hosted by Financial Counselling Victoria and is open to registered members only.

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If you have missed any of our training or professional development webinars, recorded sessions are available on our Training resources web page.

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