Online anti-gambling project targets Indigenous communities

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Online anti-gambling project targets Indigenous communities

An anti-gambling project that aims to reduce harm caused to Indigenous communities across New South Wales has launched online.

Mirage News reports that the Talking About Gambling project will be community driven and has been designed by experts at NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Services and The Australian National University.

According to Dr Megan Whitty, gambling is often referred to as the “hidden addiction” in Indigenous communities.

But starting an open and honest discussion can help break down some of the stigma so communities can identify if gambling is a problem and how it could be addressed.

“This project will allow participants to lead that discussion,” Dr Whitty said.

“They’ll be part of a closed group online, so they can talk openly about gambling in their community and how it’s affecting them.”

Dr Whitty says Indigenous people are at higher risk of gambling harm and are also less likely to seek help.

“Mainstream services aren’t always nuanced enough to encourage Indigenous people to get help,” Dr Whitty said.

“This is the first program of its kind in Australia and it’s based on empowering Indigenous people and enabling them to make informed choices.

“It’s much less prescriptive.

“Evaluation will be key. If this program is successful, we hope it could eventually be rolled out more widely.”

Ashley Gordon from the NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service says using popular social media platforms like Facebook can be a fantastic way to get people talking.

“Indigenous people face a number of barriers when it comes to accessing gambling support,” Mr Gordon said.

“This program takes away some of those barriers – they can get help without even having to leave the house.

“We’ll learn from the information and advice we get from our participants and it will allow us to better help Indigenous people all over the state.”

The project will be launched in Taree, followed by 13 other locations across the state.

Cashless pokies could be coming to NSW

Cashless poker machines in New South Wales have been welcomed by anti-gambling advocates.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in October that the state government is proposing reforms that would require poker machine gamblers to register and pre-load money to a government-issued card, which would operate in a similar way to cashless Opal cards for the public transport network.

The card would be linked to the state’s exclusion register to prevent it being used by thousands of self-excluded gamblers.

The state’s clubs were surprised by the proposal on Saturday.

Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate Tim Costello said the scheme indicated the NSW government “seems to have finally recognised the immense damage poker machines do in the state.”

“It is immensely encouraging to have a minister responsible for gambling in NSW seeking significant reform to support people experiencing issues with gambling, and also speaking about the harms poker machines do in what is effectively the non-casino pokies capital of the world.”

The group was waiting for more information on how the card scheme would work, but Mr Costello said: “Our main concern would be if people lost the sense of losing ‘real’ money if everything was digital, but this could be overcome with the right design and functionality.

“The government must look at safeguards to ensure there are no unintended consequences that increase harms.”

Senior cabinet minister Victor Dominello, who has responsibility for gambling, has crossbench support in the upper house for the proposed changes, including from the Greens and one Nation’s Mark Latham, to ensure the new laws can pass.

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