Australia: Ballarat to test gambling harm programme

The programme will provide training for mental health workers.
The programme will provide training for mental health workers.

The pilot programme has been developed following feedback from the Gambler Help Service funded through the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Australia.- The city of Ballarat in Victoria has been selected by the government to start testing a new programme to tackle gambling harm. The pilot was launched by Melissa Horne, minister for consumer affairs, gaming and liquor regulation, and Juliana Addiso, member for Wendouree and Michaela Settle, member for Buninyong. 

The new programme will provide training for workers in mental health, alcohol and other drug sectors who also treat people suffering from gambling harm. Based on feedback from the Gambler Help Service funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the programme aims to improve access for people seeking treatment for comorbid conditions, such as a mental health issues in addition to gambling harm

The training will be led by clinical consultant Dr Jane Oakes and the foundation’s principal clinical advisor, Tony Clarkson. It will be provided to practitioners at Ballarat Community Health, Child and Family Services and the Salvation Army Health Services. 

According to authorities, the pilot “will increase awareness of gambling harm among healthcare professions and remove barriers faced by people seeking help – such as stigma.” Healthcare practitioners ask their pacients whether they gamble, and progresses from there in whatever way they find works.

Results will be used to draw lessons for future planning across the state.

Horne said: “Everyone experiences gambling harm differently, and tailored treatment options are so important for long-term recovery – which is exactly what this tool provides.”

Addison added: “This pilot is ensuring locals can get the help they need by increasing awareness among allied health professionals and removing stigma as a barrier to seeking support.”  

The news arrives a few days after the Alliance for Gambling Reform called for more restrictions on slot machines in Victoria. The body estimates that player losses on what are known as poker machines in Australia have reached AU$66bn since their introduction in Victoria 30 years ago.

The Alliance has called for action to reduce the impact of the machines, including a fixed closing time for all poker machines between 2am and 6am. It has also called for a maximum bet of AU$1 across all machines. This is something the Victorian Greens party has also proposed. The state currently has a maximum bet limit of AU$5 on poker machines.

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