Craig Swift, acting CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, photo: Paul Jeffers
This week we're celebrating Cultural Diversity Week in Victoria. And today is Harmony Day across Australia, a time to reflect and celebrate inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
All over Victoria we see different nationalities most places we go: on our sporting fields, in our schools, where we work and where we play. And let’s not forget all the incredible cuisines, and the TV shows that share the secrets of preparing them.
When we think about how these many different cultures enrich our everyday lives, we should also consider the impact of Australian culture on their lives, including our long-existing culture of gambling.
Ethnic communities are at a high risk of gambling harm
Victoria’s population is among the fastest-growing and most diverse in Australia. The 2011 census showed the population of Victoria had grown by 8.5 per cent since 2006. There was also a 23 per cent increase in Victorians born overseas, covering some 200 countries. Just over 23 per cent of Victorians also spoke a language other than English at home.
These statistics clearly show how vital it is we consider languages and cultural sensitivities in providing services for all Victorians.
When we raise awareness about the risks of gambling, and help people who have experienced gambling harm, the foundation and our partners tailor our work to make sure we can reach all cultures in our community.
Different cultures have different attitudes and beliefs about gambling – even the definition of ‘gambling’ can vary. Certain cultures may attach more stigma to gambling than others. If someone feels a heightened sense of shame, it can make them more secretive about their gambling and reluctant to ask for help, which often makes matters worse. In many cultures, the concept of counselling doesn’t exist.
Different cultures have different attitudes and beliefs about gambling – even the definition of ‘gambling’ can vary.
On top of this, settling in a new country can be highly stressful – there can be language difficulties, loneliness and isolation, and even trauma from experiences overseas. Sometimes gambling offers a welcome escape. Add the fact that it could also be seen as part of the Aussie lifestyle and perhaps a way to integrate, and it’s no wonder these communities are vulnerable to gambling harm.
Working to educate and protect vulnerable groups
In recent years we’ve worked with our partners to expand our help services and community education across the state. There’s some really great work happening out there and this edition of Inside gambling highlights a number of excellent programs and projects within culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Settling in a new country can be highly stressful – there can be language difficulties, loneliness and isolation, and even trauma from experiences overseas.
Both mainstream and culturally specific gambling help services are needed to support these diverse communities, including families and individuals seeking assistance. We also see the value of providing culturally appropriate information about gambling to individuals arriving in Australia. If we start the conversation straightaway, instead of after harm has occurred, imagine the difference we can make.
With this in mind, read on to gain an insight into those who educate their communities about the risks of gambling, those who seek help for gambling harm, and those who provide it.
Alice Pung discusses the allure of gambling for international students and what Chinese Gambler’s Help is doing to educate and protect young Chinese people studying in our universities.
Five minutes with Hoda Nahal from Arabic Welfare opens our eyes to the dedication and passion of Gambler’s Help counsellors.
Elizabeth tells of how, after her marriage ended, the pokies seemed a safe place to go on her own, and how she is now helping others struggling with gambling realise they aren’t the only ones.
There are many groups out there raising awareness about the risks of gambling and making positive changes in their communities. The Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association is changing views and addressing stigma by breaking the silence through theatre.
The Horn of Africa Communities Network is training leaders to raise issues related to gambling harm and its prevention with their community members. Read It takes a village.
These are just some of the inspiring and insightful stories you’ll find in this edition.
I encourage all our readers, clients, agencies and staff to embrace Cultural Diversity Week. It is fantastic to know at one point in the year we are focused on celebrating the diversity of all who call Australia home.