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More action to combat gambling in CALD communities

31 July 20180 comments

Line of electronic slot machines in casino. Property released.

The latest initiative to tackle problem gambling in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities was announced this month by the Victorian state government

Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz launched the first of a suite of new resources aimed at reducing gambling-related harm in CALD communities during Refugee Week.

More than a quarter of Victorians at risk of severe gambling-related harm speak a language other than English at home.

The new videos developed by the Horn of Africa Communities Network (HACN) aim to help new migrant communities understand the risks associated with gambling, overcome the stigma related to gambling harm and encourage people to seek advice and support.

The video project is part of the HACN ‘Emerging Communities Responsible Gambling Program’, which works with members of the Karen and Chin (Burma), Dinka, Nuer and Sudanese Arabic (Sudan), Amharic (Ethiopia) and Somali communities.

The $260,000 program is part of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s $3.87 million ‘Prevention Partnership Program’, which aims to help prevent and reduce gambling harm in communities across Victoria.

The two-year HACN program will train community liaison officers to engage with their respective communities and develop initiatives to help refugees in west, north and south-east Melbourne reduce their risk of gambling-related harm.

“Talking openly about gambling harm reduces the stigma and encourages those who may be too embarrassed or reluctant to ask for help, to get the support they need,” Minister Kairouz said.

The Victorian government has already taken steps to reduce problem gambling including capping pokies numbers across the state, limiting daily cash withdrawals in venues and restricting betting advertising in public spaces.

But it has stopped short of introducing the $1 a spin limit called for by anti-gambling groups.

Victoria’s multicultural minister Robin Scott has said that all Victorians, no matter where they come from, are vulnerable to problem gambling.

“Victorians come from all over the world, so our messages about gambling need to target them,” he said.

“These projects will encourage people to talk openly about the challenges of gambling and get support at a grassroots level,” Minister Scott said.

The state government initiative comes after research has shown cultural isolation and notions of material aspiration are contributing to high rates of problem gambling among some migrant communities.

The study, by Monash University researchers found Chinese migrant gamblers are five times more likely to fall victim to problem gambling than the general gambling population.

The study found cultural beliefs in luck and auspicious signs have contributed to higher prevalence of problem gambling in the Chinese-Australian community.

“People talked about testing your luck – it’s really ingrained in the culture,” researcher Dr Harriet Radermacher said.

“Casinos are associated with wealth and class.”

She said Australia’s casinos are taking advantage of the Chinese community’s taste for gambling and glitzy casinos, using language and cuisine to cater to the market.

“People talked a lot about the sense of freedom they felt when they came here and how this could lead to embracing the gambling culture,” Dr Radermacher said.

She said casinos provided a haven for the culturally isolated people.

This, coupled with the difficulty for new non-English speaking migrants to find culturally appropriate social activities, often leads to a dependency on gambling.

Dr Radermacher said gambling was well documented in the Australian community, but not within specific ethnic groups.

“The percentage of Australians that gamble is equivalent to Canada or England by the percentage per capita, but the amount people are spending when they gamble is two to three times higher in Australia,” she said.

“That’s why we’re labelled the gambling nation, and it’s quite shocking really.”

She said culturally appropriate support needs to be developed for migrant communities.

“Australia is a multicultural nation and we don’t know enough about the ethnic voices,” she said.





Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist