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Magazines : Our Place - Geelong Region Magazine 2011
DAZZA had some big, big wins on the punt. Big ... and not just at the TAB but down at Crown Casino as well. Really they needed to be big to help wallpaper over the massive black holes gambling car ved in his finances, but somewhere along the way something else went missing as well. Even the big wins didn't cut it any more in providing thrill, joy or fulfilment in the hollow his life had become. Big wins meant big losses, and his losses reached far beyond his hip pocket. Dazza is fictional but his story rings true times over. Geelong's Bethany Gamblers Help co-ordinator Bec Henderson has met mirror images of his story plenty of times during her work piloting a pioneering program building early intervention links and referral pathways between problem gamblers and the right help. e campaign catchline is Everybody gambles right? Its publicity artwork deliberately shows young people because the target age group zeroe's on the mid-20s and not upward in age but down to as low as 15. at's when problems can start through addiction to lures like routine poker and on-line games. One per cent of adults are problem gamblers, but the figure jumps to up to four per cent for people aged between 15 and 25. Mrs Henderson says they're often young men living at home or sharing houses, without mechanisms like mortgage commitments to slow them down or make them think again. She says the real consequences of young gambling habits are only starting to become apparent. "It's a very new area of research, there's not a lot out there but it's starting to build,' ' she says."So much more needs to be done in this area.' ' e reasons have become stark as she has spoken to more than 100 young Geelong region men caught in gambling vortexes in many different settings. ey've talked about feeling trapped, about the all-or-nothing nature of their habit, about constantly borrowing money, losing jobs, losing mates. "As the problem increases they gamble alone ... all of their friends have left the pub and they're still there,' ' she says. Some told of being unable to see a future and alluded to a fragile line in health and wellbeing. Sixty per cent of the gamblers Bec Henderson interviewed reported feeling anxiety or depression. Sixteen per cent had thought about suicide. "Just think, 16 per cent got into enough trouble to think about ending it. at's really concerning to me,' ' she says. Problem gambling can often be obscuring, or pointing to, other issues including drug or alcohol abuse or mental health concerns. Bethany's program was one of two Victorian pilots and ran for a year in partnership with regional alliance G21 and with $100,000 support from the Victorian Justice Department. Its leaders have rated it an outstanding success and Bethany chief executive Grant Boyd hopes to see the Baillieu Government maintain funding support, perhaps under the umbrella of a new Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. "We think there's a strong case for this to be rolled out on a state basis,' ' Mr Boyd says. Agencies including headspace, Barwon Youth, Time for Youth and Deakin University, the Gordon Institute and Geelong Technical Education Centre have supported the Bethany program in its ground-breaking work. Bethany mobilises counsellors, financial counsellors, community educators and venue support workers in its mission. Bec Henderson suspects Geelong's gambling problem is more acute than the average and one of the things which has struck her most is the tenacity of its grip. People have told her of having recognised people in the grip but not known where to turn. Bethany and partners have constructed a pathway to support and hope it endures. PEOPLE wanting to talk about gambling can call 5278 8122 or 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelponline.org.au Bethany Gamblers Help co-ordinator Bec Henderson... 60 per cent of the gamblers she interviewed reported feeling anxiety or depression. Photograph: Glenn Ferguson A local organisation's ground-breaking work with young gamblers is paving the way for statewide support programs. DANNY LANNEN reports TOM is 24 and works as a chef. He started gambling on the pokies three years ago with friends as a way to wind down after work before heading home to his wife and two kids. He plays with more and more money, hoping to have a big win to help out with the bills. Tom's wife doesn't know he is gambling but suspects something is going on because Tom is often irritable, home late and complains about feeling stressed. AARON is 20 and started gambling on AFL games two years ago. He bets big, following a system he has developed, and drinks during games to help ease anxiety about losing thousands of dollars. Aaron has dropped out of his TAFE course because he struggles to concentrate. His mates don't want to be around him any more because all he talks about is gambling. MICHAEL is 18 and has been gambling since he was 14. His dad and uncle are into the horses and placed bets for him until he turned 18. Michael is struggling to find a job after Year 12. It was fun to have free time at first but all his friends got jobs and got busy or moved away. He is lonely and becoming depressed. Visiting the TAB fills his day and he hopes he can win big so he won't need to look for work. CASE STUDIES Our Place - the Geelong Region Magazine 47
Breakaway Autumn 2011