Gambling research paper published

Mallee research published in national journal

The research project investigating gambling harm in Aboriginal communities in the Mallee and Gippsland has been published in the national Journal of Gambling Studies.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria are more likely to gamble and to experience gambling harm than non-Indigenous people. 
The paper, by La Trobe University researcher Sarah MacLean, aimed to look at why gambling was a popular pastime and to develop more effective gambling interventions.
The research was done in partnership with Mallee District Aboriginal Services and the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative.
It involved interviews with 50 people in Mildura and Bairnsdale who had experience of gambling or had been affected by another person’s gambling.
One of the report’s co-authors, MDAS Social and Emotional Wellbeing Team Leader Darlene Thomas said the study showed many people attached significant meaning to gambling as an opportunity for community gatherings and socialising.
“But community members also observed gambling addiction was contributing to poverty, depression, family violence, shame and isolation,” Ms Thomas said.
“Gambling was seen to be undermining cultural practices and the cause of significant community harm and many people were very concerned about that.”
The study identified that many participants found opportunities to gamble inescapable.
“The study reported that gambling venues were very welcoming, and this appealed to many people, especially older women, who enjoyed the opportunity to socialise,” Ms Thomas said.
“For people who are socially isolated, gambling provides entertainment and a valued outing.”
The research also showed that people who need support with gambling are reluctant to access it because of shame and embarrassment.
“As one person in the study said, you only want to talk about winnings – you don’t want to tell anyone you just lost $200,” she added.
Ms Thomas said MDAS had responded to the findings of the report through community-level responses to gambling that are grounded in culture and that are relevant to the community’s needs.
“The implementation of the Family Wellbeing Program in the past 12 months is a key example of the sorts of responses that we are now seeing do work,” she said.
“Although FWB is not strictly a gambling program, it is a small-group approach that is focussed on identifying issues and on empowering people, families and communities.
“Without exception in the FWB groups, gambling is very much one of the issues that is discussed,” she said.
“FWB has been a really positive initiative that’s addressing some of the issues relating to and contributing to gambling harm.  It allows people to find ways to talk about issues of concern and to find ways to address them.”
Ms Thomas said many of the research participants thought restricting poker machines and regulating emerging internet gambling could be a partial solution.
“We do need to look at historical issues that affect Aboriginal people and gain greater understanding of those impacts,” she added.
The report is available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10899-019-09858-9

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MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: "Self-determined, healthy, robust and culturally strong Aboriginal communities across the Mallee region."

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