When gambling becomes a problem

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Think you need help? Call Relationships Australia

It takes a village to raise a child, they say.
And when that child loses his way, the village comes to help him find it!
One such village, Multicultural Communities Australia (MCA) recently raised awareness of gambling issue in our community.
Most Australians gamble for entertainment, whether it is on horse bets or buying lottery tickets or going to the casino occasionally. It’s almost a cultural thing. But when gambling has a negative impact and starts to hurt a person on his pocket and family, it’s referred as ‘problem gambling’. That’s when it becomes necessary to draw a line and seek help.
Sometimes it’s not as easy to stop as one might think. The person affected may not realise or acknowledge that there’s a problem at all. Often it’s too late before they realise, by which time the family around them has already started to suffer. Although help is usually around the corner, there are issues and stigmas attached to seeking help.
The statistics regarding gambling problem in Australia are becoming increasingly frightening:
*In 2009, 70 per cent of Australians participated in some form of gambling.
*Australians spent more than $19 billion on gambling in 2008-09, around $12 billion of which was spent playing on poker machines.
*Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers.
*The cost to the community of problem gambling is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year.
*Problem gamblers are around six times more likely to be divorced, four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times more likely to smoke daily than non-problem gamblers.
*Children with parents who are problem gamblers are up to 10 times more likely than children with non-gambling parents to become problem gamblers themselves.
In collaboration with Relationships Australia (SA), MCA organised an information and networking session, focussing on gambling, for the South Asian migrant community in particular, on 19 June. Community leaders from various organisations from India (Indian Australian Association of SA), Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh participated.
This event was a first of its kind, where representatives of Asian communities came together and the event offered a new focus for Multicultural Communities in SA on the challenges of addressing the social issues collectively.
Some government representatives also attended. Steve Georganas (Federal Labor candidate from Hindmarsh),
Russell Wortley (President, MLC) and Dana Wortley (MP from Torrens) came along and spoke at large about the problem, the government’s help and funds available to tackle this issue. However, approaching Federal elections made it inevitable for them to campaign as well and make use of the opportunity!
The representatives from Relationships Australia SA, Enaam and Mike presented information catering to personal education and community empowerment. However, the best information and education came from Ann and Melvin – two clients of Relationships SA who had sought help after being thrown in the deep end losing everything to pokies and drugs. They were fortunate to seek help before too late and could turn their lives around. Both are at a happy place now in their lives and are using their inspirational stories in raising awareness. They gave all the credit to the help extended to them by the skilled social workers at Relationships SA who run government-funded projects to help such people.
The organisers from MCA – Vivek Sharma and Deepak Bhardwaj need a special mention for organising and running a smooth and flawless event, which included a drawcard of yummy Indian food (the event was run at an Indian restaurant).
The ultimate objective of the evening was no doubt to bring culturally diverse communities on the same platform, whether it was awareness or finding solutions together for contemporary social problems.
There are several future plans of addressing different social issues by these organisers. Stay tuned.
Ten signs of a gambling problem
Chasing losses
Borrowing money
Always betting more
Being obsessed with gambling
Being unable to stop gambling
Gambling out of need
Gambling to forget
Stealing or committing fraud to gamble
Gambling because it is the most important thing in the world
Anyone who might be going through a rough patch and needs help in their lives on any issue affecting them, may contact Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or for country callers 1800 182 325.

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