Community leaders working within multicultural environments have received further understanding about gambling at a forum in Shepparton.
The event, organised by the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District, was a way of educating community leaders about the issue and what can be done to reduce the high regional statistics involving gambling.
Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District project co-ordinator Andrew Murley said the motivation behind running the workshop had been the rising numbers of those affected.
‘‘We’re noticing gambling is becoming more of a problem and our aim is to try and educate community leaders; that way, when people do have a gambling problem, we will have trained leaders who will hopefully be able to help them,’’ he said.
Among those who spoke at the forum was Primary Care Connect’s gamblers’ help co-ordinator Julie Le Sueur.
As a community member who sees the affects of gambling on a regular basis, Ms Le Sueur said the regional statistics were alarming.
She said the City of Greater Shepparton had the 28th highest pokies expenditure in the state, with $91351 put into pokies machines every day.
‘‘That figure last year was sitting at $85000 and in just 12 months it’s risen to $91000,’’ she said.
‘‘There’s so many contributing factors to that rising number and one of them I would say is the normalisation of gambling.’’
Ms Le Sueur believed the increasingly common and casual nature of gambling advertising had played a large part in the rising gambling expenditure.
Mr Murley said he was stunned by the statistics.
‘‘I’m amazed and disgusted — that’s a lot of pokie machines and a lot of people losing a lot of money,’’ he said.
He said although gambling had become a serious issue that would not go away overnight, the forum was a step in the right direction toward forming future projects aimed at reducing the problem.
‘‘This problem won’t go away until the government and everyone acknowledges it and does something about it, but at least what we’ve done today, we’ve started the conversations,’’ Mr Murley said.
Also among those who spoke at the forum was writer Arnold Zable, who shared various stories and real life experiences from a book he edited called From Ruin To Recovery.
Mr Murley said overall the forum had been a great success with more than 50 people in attendance to learn more about the issue.
If you are facing the effects of gambling, phone the 24-hour gamblers’ helpline on 1800858858.