WIMMERA organisations have started conversations about gambling harm this week.
It comes during the inaugural Gambling Harm Awareness Week where the community are encouraged to talk about the issue, share personal experiences and support those currently affected.
While there are less people gambling than a decade ago – according to the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation – those who are gambling are doing it more often and spending more.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation most recent data showed that $26,060 is spent on pokie machines each day across three venues in the Horsham Rural City municipality.
In the Northern Grampians Shire $12,222 is spent each day across two venues and $14,410 in the Ararat Rural City municipality.
Grampians Community Health and Stawell Neighbourhood House helped drive the conversation about gambling harm.
Grampians Community Health’s Christine Walker said the harm from gambling could affect anyone, even those who do not gamble.
Ms Walker said gambling can cause financial difficulties, relationship problems, work or study performance issues, and emotional and psychological distress. She said the harm was often hidden because there was stigma that stops people from talking about the issue.
“This harm is often hidden because talking about it can make people uncomfortable. But that’s exactly what we need to do as a community to better understand gambling harm, alleviate the stigma associated with it, and prevent it from occurring,” she said.
“If you are concerned about your gambling or someone else’s, talking about it is a good first step. Together we can address gambling harm, so let’s start talking about it in our community.”
Ms Walker said the community event included a presentation by the Institute of Games founder Steven Dupon. She said his session helped parents understand the impacts of gaming and the risks and relationship between gaming and gambling.