Gambling Harm Awareness Week is recognising the harms of gambling for the gambler and also their family and friends
Gambling harm is any negative consequence, caused or made worse by gambling, that affects the health or wellbeing of an individual, their family or community. It involves more than just financial losses and has impacts beyond the person who gambles.
Family, friends, work mates and even colleagues can all feel the effect of gambling harm. But sadly, the stigma associated with gambling often prevents those affected from seeking help. People harmed by gambling may feel embarrassed and ashamed, and understandably, find it hard to talk about their gambling.
It’s important to know that you are not alone. Almost 15,000 Canberrans report some harm from their gambling. Almost half of all gambling losses come from these Canberrans.
Gambling harm can be...
High levels of stress can bring on serious physical symptoms. These include tiredness, increased blood pressure, loss of sleep, migraines, nausea and stomach upsets, peptic ulcers and coronary heart disease.
Gambling harm may also affect the way you feel emotionally. This includes feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, shame or stigma. You may also experience feelings of isolation and the inability to talk to anyone about your concerns.
Financial harm is often the crisis that leads to seeking help and speaking up. At its most extreme, it may involve loss of housing or bankruptcy. It can develop over time and include the inability to no longer meet the cost of essential items such as food, clothing, personal care products, fuel, utilities and housing.
At its core, gambling harm can affect your relationships. This can include feeling that you or the other person is withdrawing, uncommunicative, as well as engaging and spending less time with family members. You begin to miss out on things because the money is not there or the other person won’t join you. Family members feel they need to fix things, control access to money or even rescue other family members. Becoming isolated, particularly if gambling, may not be culturally or socially acceptable in your community or extended family. Family members may feel that the harm is somehow their fault, that if they were a better partner, child or parent, this wouldn’t happen.
What can I do?
Help for your gambling
You are not alone. In the ACT more than 15,000 people are experiencing harm from their gambling.
If you want to explore strategies to reduce gambling harm, information, self help strategies, online forums and online support are available at Gambling Help Online.
If you would prefer to talk to someone you can call 1800 858 858 anytime.
Family and Friends
Gambling harm may be impacting your health and wellbeing, so look after yourself first. Free and confidential help services including financial counselling are available if you need them or would just like to talk to someone.
If you decide to raise the issue of gambling harm with your family member who is gambling be mindful that they are likely to be embarrassed, ashamed and possibly defensive. It may be hard to talk.
A gambling counsellor is available to help and support you online, over the phone or in person. To talk to someone at anytime, you can call 1800 858 858.
To see a gambling or financial counsellor call 1800 858 858 to organise a free and confidential appointment.
There are good resources available for family members too including:
ACT Gambling Harm Awareness Week Stakeholder Activities 2016
The Commission will be raising awareness of gambling harm through adds in local media and ACT Government contact points.
The Commission has developed a webpage http://www.gamblingandracing.act.gov.au/gambling-harm-awareness with information about gambling harm, how to get help and links to other helpful sites.
Community sector workers can attend a “Let’s Talk About Gambling” course in November to understand more about gambling harm and their clients.
ClubsACT will be hosting a series of presentations by ClubSafe Ambassador and NRL Legend Nathan Hindmarsh. Nathan will be speaking of his personal battles with problem gambling as well as the importance of seeking help if your gambling is having a negative impact on your life or the life of others. These presentations will be conducted for CIT Students at Fyshwick and the Elite Sports Program at Erindale College. ClubsACT is also working with the Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to provide Nathan with the opportunity to speak with the Indigenous community about problem gambling.
Gambling Contact Officer
Gambling Contact Officers have operated in gaming venues across the ACT for years, however their role and purpose has not widely been promoted throughout the community. ClubsACT with funds from the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund have produced an industry wide brand initiative to promote the role of the Gambling Contact Officer as well as enable patrons to easily identify trained staff within a venue. This is an integral component of the branding - should a patron need assistance for themselves or their family or friends whose gambling may be out of control. The branding will be rolled out across November with an information program on the role of a Gambling Contact Officer to support the messaging.
Casino Canberra will launch the “Back Your Mates” social media campaign, which is a community service announcement that aims to create awareness and empower friends, family members and work colleagues to take an active role in recognising the signs of gambling harm and getting help.
Casino Canberra will also be hosting cross-cultural gambling harm awareness training for key staff. The training is designed and facilitated by Relationships Australia, in South Australia, and is based on the successful PEACE multi-cultural gambling help services program. The training will address key topics about perception of gambling in the CALD community, increasing awareness and understanding of cultural nuances, and dealing with gambling harm in a culturally sensitive manner.
Check out your local Child and Family Centre for information on gambling harm and the services the ACT GCSS can offer.
Program Managers under the ACT Child and Young People Support Program can attend a forum co-hosted by the Youth Coalition about screening for gambling harm in their services.
In partnership with the Youth Coalition, ACT GCSS is hosting a lunchtime BBQ at CIT Fyshwick.
Keep an eye out at your local TAB outlet or social media for information and advice about strategies to reduce the risk of gambling harm.
The ACT Council of Social Service is lending a hand by distributing Gambling Harm Awareness material and information about activities during the week through their extensive community sector networks.
Just want to know more?
Find out more at Gambling Help Online or by contacting the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.
If you are interested in research about gambling harm, visit the Commission’s Research page.