Featured image: City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson, with Lived Experience Advisory Committee member, Linda Genser and Cafs Community Engagement Officer, Linda Borner. Image courtesy of City of Ballarat. 

The City of Ballarat has collaborated with a number of community bodies to draw attention to the harm caused by gambling during Gambling Harm Awareness Week. 

As part of Gambling Harm Awareness Week, the Ballarat Gambling Harm Prevention Taskforce will hold a powerful presentation and panel discussion at Ballarat Town Hall on 17 October.

Gambling Harm Awareness Week encourages people to talk about the harms associated with gambling and the effects they can have on communities, families, friends, workplaces and individuals. Gambling can affect self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life.

The week focuses on personal stories of recovery, which are powerful because they offer a sense of hope and optimism. They also encourage open community discussions that help to reduce stigma, which can be a barrier to help seeking.

Featuring an exhibition from creative group Three Sides of the Coin and a panel discussion with people sharing their own lived gambling experiences, the day seeks to highlight the impact gambling has on the community.

The free presentation is the result of a City of Ballarat collaboration with Cafs, Ballarat Community Health, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, and the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House.

This year’s focus is on how to have a conversation with someone whose gambling is becoming a concern.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson, said it was important to highlight the harm that gambling was causing people in Ballarat.

“In the 2022/23 financial year, the Ballarat community lost $64.3 million on electronic gaming machines – that’s a staggering amount,” Mayor Hudson said.

“Last year the City of Ballarat released a Minimising Gambling Harm Social Policy Position Statement that highlighted a commitment to reducing gambling harm across the municipality, as well as the Gambling Harm Minimisation Policy.

“We acknowledge the regulation of gaming machines primarily rests with the Victorian Government, but we uphold our responsibility to improve community health and wellbeing in striving to lessen harm to the community caused by gambling.

“I encourage people to sign up and attend this event as it promises to be both powerful and informative.”

Cafs CEO, Wendy Sturgess, said the partnership with the City of Ballarat was crucial in addressing the harm caused by gambling.

“At Cafs we work with people from right across the community who are impacted by gambling harm in all its forms and every year that number remains stubbornly high,” Ms Sturgess said.

“Working with the City of Ballarat to deliver forums such as this gives us a valuable opportunity to educate people about the signs that someone may be experiencing gambling harm and to highlight the services that are available to anyone who needs support.”

Featured image: City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson, with Lived Experience Advisory Committee member, Linda Genser and Cafs Community Engagement Officer, Linda Borner. Image courtesy of City of Ballarat. 

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