Speaking up for communities

Anglicare Community Services staff members at the Devonport Child and Family Centre speaking to visitors at a table display on support services.

Anglicare Tasmania is set to brief Legislative Councillors about the importance of taking a public health approach to reduce the harms linked to poker machines.

The Lower House last week passed legislation without the full suite of harm minimisation measures recommended by the community services sector.

As the bill heads to the Upper House for debate, Anglicare continues to call on all politicians to make gambling safer.

Anglicare has significant experience delivering the Gamblers Help service, financial counselling, community-based programs, and research about the impacts of gambling. It is on this basis we recommended to Government that the legislation contain measures to both reduce harm and reduce availability.

Anglicare is especially concerned that poker machines are concentrated in lower socio-economic areas in our State.

Poker machine gambling contributes to relationship breakdowns, alcohol and drug use, anxiety, depression, financial hardship and crime. Its ripple effects are felt in families, workplaces and the wider community.

 “Law makers could make straightforward changes to protect Tasmanians,” said General Manager Housing and Community Services Noel Mundy. “These include reducing the maximum bet limit to $1, slowing the spin speed and prohibiting losses disguised as wins”.

For many years, Anglicare has shared this message with politicians, alongside our frontline work assisting Tasmanians harmed by gambling.

Noel said gambling is listed by the World Health Organisation as an addictive disorder. “It’s now widely accepted that gambling rewires the brain. Poker machines are just as addictive as alcohol and drugs – and they are designed that way,” he said. “

Noel said the introduction to the legislation of facial recognition technology and a smart card identification system represented a step in the right direction, but these measures on their own offered limited benefits.

“They are only relevant for people who have already voluntarily placed themselves on a self-exclusion register,” he says. “We know that self-exclusion works but it requires an individual to have a deep understanding of their addiction – and there are many people who have not yet reached that critical point. We know that people with a gambling addiction are far less likely to reach out for support than people who use alcohol and drugs.”

Anglicare delivers support and community education through the Gamblers Help service.

“While it’s clear that gambling addiction is caused by the way the industry and our society are structured – and that gambling is not a free choice due to its addictive nature – there are things that individuals can do to help protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Noel. “Without an appropriate public health approach by policy makers, this responsibility is being left to individuals”.

“Professionally trained counsellors can help people understand what triggers gambling and how they can cope with the urge to gamble,” he said.

Gamble Aware Week, held last month took a ‘Talk.Share.Support’ message to local communities. More than 200 people attended two events held with the support of the Launceston City Council and the East Devonport Child and Family Centre.

During the Week, Anglicare launched a Gamblers Help Family Resource Booklet. It discusses warning signs, strategies for starting a conversation and how families can support a loved one while also looking after themselves. You can download a copy of the booklet here.

Click here to read the latest submission to government from Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre.

Photo: Pictured at the Gamble Aware Week event at the East Devonport Child and Family Centre are (from left) Jess Monson from Anglicare’s Gamblers Help service and Anglicare financial counsellor Tina Johnston.



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