THE new lead agency for gamblers' help programs in the Wimmera has encouraged people to call Grampians Community Health for assistance.
Child and Family Services Ballarat has won a Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation contract to provide financial counselling, gamblers' help community education and venue support in the region.
It has sub-contracted Grampians Community Health to continue providing therapeutic counselling from its Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and St Arnaud offices.
Child and Family Services financial counselling and gamblers' help program co-ordinator Colin Handreck said Wimmera people should call Grampians Community Health in the first instance for gamblers' help.
Grampians Community Health gambling, alcohol and other drug team manager Carol Henwood said therapeutic counselling involved offering people experiencing gambling problems strategies to either stop or cut down on their gambling.
"There are a lot of reasons why people gamble, and it's not usually all about the money," she said. "So therapeutic counsellors need to be skilled."
Two therapeutic counsellors deliver the program, from Beaufort to the South Australian border.
Ms Henwood said Grampians Community Health had been instrumental in starting the gamblers' help program.
For more than 10 years, Grampians Community Health provided gamblers' help services in partnership with Wimmera Uniting Care.
Because of the new contract, Child and Family Services has taken over the roles formerly done by Wimmera Uniting Care.
Ms Henwood said the new arrangements also meant a slight reduction to the scope of Grampians Community Health's gamblers' help services.
"We lost the portfolio component, which involved secondary consultation with other agencies," she said.
"But we had a very positive working relationship with Wimmera Uniting Care and will ensure we have the same with Child and Family Services."
Ms Henwood encouraged people to call the Horsham office on 5362 1200 or Stawell office on 5358 7400 for gamblers' help.
Mr Handreck said Child and Family Services Ballarat would provide an outreach service for financial counselling, gamblers' help community education and venue support in the region.
"Staff will travel to the Wimmera for those three roles on a needs basis," he said.
"Because the arrangement is new I can't even tell you what the frequency will be."
Mr Handreck visited the Wimmera on Friday to liaise with Wimmera Uniting Care and Grampians Community Health.
He said people could call the Child and Family Services Ballarat office on 5337 3333 for more information.
He said people could also call the Problem Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 for immediate, 24-hour help