It’s a pastime that can that can destroy families and lives, but there’s help at hand to support those with gambling addictions.
This week marks ‘GambleAware Week,’ and Mission Australia is reminding the community it offers free and confidential support to Aboriginal people and their families through a gambling health program.
Aboriginal Community Coordinator for the Mission Australia Gambling Help Program Annette Toomey says this week provides an opportunity for the community to understand the signs of problem gambling, and serves as a reminder for people to check in on those close to them.
“Many families have fond memories such as catching up with mob during card nights, or meeting up at the local club for a press,” she said.
“While safe gambling can be a fun social activity and is widely accepted as such, it can also be difficult to recognise problem gambling and the harm it can bring to individuals, their families and the broader community.”
Ms Toomey added that problem gambling is often a “hidden” issue within Aboriginal communities and said “seeking help can often bring feelings of shame”.
“Our Aboriginal support workers understand these cultural considerations and are raising awareness that there is ‘no shame in the game’ and that seeking help is the first step to healing,” she said.
“There are many ways you can choose to manage problem gambling, whether that be to learn tips to gamble safely, or to abstain altogether.”
The Mission Australia Aboriginal Gambling Help Program runs SMART Recovery groups, equipping participants with self-management tools to manage or abstain from addictions.
While the groups focus on gambling help, they can also be helpful for people experiencing other addictions or mental health challenges.
“The pandemic has isolated many and pushed social interactions online,” Ms Toomey said.
“With less face to face catch ups and more time in isolation, we can easily miss the signs that someone’s gambling might be getting out of hand.
“We are encouraging people to check in when they catch up and look behind the screens to see what’s really going on.”
The service has no limit on the number of sessions and appointments can be made by phone.
The counselling service offers a variety of options, including face-to-face, telephone, groups, community information sessions and online.
If gambling is causing stress for you or you are impacted by a family member’s problem gambling, please contact Mission Australia’s Aboriginal Gambling support worker Annette Toomey on 0437 136 423 to arrange an appointment.
The Mission Australia office is also open for drop ins Monday to Thursday from 9am to 4pm.