2023 Gambling Harm Awareness Week

GHAW Invitation 2023 FINAL SOCIALS

The Ballarat community lost $64.3 million on Gaming Machines over the 2022-2023 financial year.

You're invited to a free Gambling Harm Awareness Week Event from 11.00 am - 2.00 pm on Tuesday 17 October at the Ballarat Town Hall.
Presented by the Ballarat Gambling Harm Prevention Taskforce, this event is supported by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Ballarat Council, Cafs, Ballarat Community Health and the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House.
You can also follow the Ballarat Gambling Harm Prevention Taskforce on Facebook.
Talk. Share. Support - where to from here?

Gambling Harm Awareness Week will be held from 16 to 22 October 2023. Join us to recognise Gambling Harm Awareness Week and learn about the impact of gambling on our community. This year's focus is on how to have a conversation with someone whose gambling is becoming a concern.

As part of Gambling Harm Awareness Week, Ballarat Gambling Harm Prevention Taskforce presents a performance and panel discussion followed by a free lunch. The event will be hosted by Lynda Genser, a Gambling Harm Lived Experience speaker (see more below).

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11.00 am – 12.00 noon: Presentation by Three Sides of the Coin (people who have been harmed by gambling perform their stories)

12.00 noon – 1.00 pm: Panel Discussion (see information about the speakers below):

1.00 pm – 2.00 pm: Light Lunch (closer to the event, we will contact people who register regarding dietary requirements)


About Three Sides of the Coin

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Three Sides of the Coin: People Harmed by Gambling Perform Their Stories

Our work ignites conversation. Gambling is a public health concern which affects us all. Through creative workshops and with peer support, people explore their stories. Performance scenes are devised based on people’s lived experiences. We share these stories to challenge stigma and highlight the links between gambling, alcohol and drugs, mental health and family violence.

In 2012, Melbourne writer Arnold Zable conducted writing workshops for people with gambling addiction, the result was an anthology of eleven stories ‘From Ruin to Recovery – Gamblers share their stories’.

With an invitation to present the book at the 2013 Melbourne Writers Festival (See short film here), Artistic Director Catherine Simmonds OAM, came on board to dramatize the reading with participants. The presentation was met with a standing ovation and as the silence of shame cracked, it became our defining moment.

Recognised as pioneering and powerful, the demand for our performance-based activism quickly grew. It continues to evolve in collaboration with the sectors of local government, mental health, justice, education, alcohol and other drugs, family violence, research, community and cultural groups.

Our storytelling, both in-person and online, continues to reach audiences across Australia igniting conversations, challenging stigma, building empathy and all the while framing gambling as a public health concern.

About the Panel Members

Lynda Genser 

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Lynda migrated to Australia from Canada more than 50 years ago and made a life for herself running her own business as a chef for 30 years, before taking on the executive director role at a charitable organisation. Now retired, Lynda volunteers in her local opportunity shop and enjoys spending time with her children and seven grandchildren.

Lynda is a member of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation's Lived Experience Advisory Committee which provides their board and management with perspectives from personal experience of gambling harm, including harm from someone else’s gambling. Members of the committee represent diverse gambling experiences and backgrounds. 

Lynda says, "You can have a really good life after gambling is my message. When I finally stopped, it was almost like a weight had been taken off my shoulders. I could remember something my parents used to say to me, you know if at first you don't succeed try again. Well in my case, that's what happened and now twelve and a half years later, I'm a gambler, I always will be unfortunately, but I don't gamble anymore."

Read Lynda's Story - and another version here.

 Shayne Rogers

Shayne Rodgers

Shayne Rodgers, a proud Taungurung man, currently works as a Project Manager at the Taungurung Land and Waters Council, leading impactful social housing projects within his community. With over a decade of active engagement in the gambling harm field, Shayne has made significate contributions. He is the co-producer and presenter of the enlightening podcast 'Not a Dollar More' a collaborative initiative with Banyle Community Health dedicated to addressing crucial aspects of gambling harm with real-life stories. This was the first Gambling Harm podcast in Australia!

Further cementing his role as a change-maker, Shayne serves as co-chair of the Lived Experience Committee within the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, offering indispensable insights derived from his journey. Shayne's gambling harm—a 9-year struggle from gambling during his early 20s—lends him a distinctive empathy towards individuals facing similar struggles.

Moreover, Shayne's dedication extends to his four years of volunteer service at Banyule Community Health, where he provided vital peer-to-peer support. This experience, combined with his commitment to understanding the gambling harm-related struggles of First Nations people and communities, shapes Shayne's holistic approach to effecting positive change. With steadfast resolve, Shayne continues to be an influential voice in discussions around gambling harm and community well-being.

Read Shayne’s personal story of gambling harm: Streaming gambling recovery.

Source: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation 

Daniel Irwin

Daniel Irwin

As a young adult Dan Irwin had too much free time, and too much money. To most people it sounds like the dream combination but for Dan it was a recipe for addiction. A gambling addict for over a decade, Dan’s story of two lost marriages, dismissal from his job, being issued an AVO and his contemplating suicide are sobering and emotional. But the tools he learnt from a counsellor to fight his addiction are life skills every person should know and in his presentations, he shares them with sincerity in the hope he can stop at least one other person making the same mistakes.

Dan was a member of the Senior Football and Cricket teams in his local country town. The culture among the teams was one of binge drinking and gambling and Dan was easily misguided. The first sign Dan’s habit was spiralling out of control was soon after he married and he began drawing on savings to feed his addiction. When his marriage broke up, a heavy bout of depression saw Dan’s gambling increase. He married for a second time and found new employment, but the cycle was vicious, with more money there was more to bet with. Dan became reclusive, shied away from friends and soon his wife called for a separation. It was while staying on his Mum’s couch in 2012 that Dan hit rock bottom, but it was at the bottom that he learnt, ‘the only way is up’.

Dan’s presentation style is down-to-earth and open; he loves to take questions from his audience because he admits that talking about his past is therapy in itself. He is passionate about helping others and listens without judgement about their experiences with gambling, offering a wealth of advice and life lessons.

Dan’s speaking credits to date include Collingwood Football Club, Sons of the West (Western Bulldogs), Moreland Shire Council and the Responsible Gambling Foundation. Dan builds a strong rapport with all his audiences and connects with those who might otherwise feel frightened, alone, unsure or just have a question, or three.

Gambling Harm Awareness Week

This year’s theme will continue to be Talk. Share. Support. Foundation activity will focus on supporting Victorians to have a conversation with someone whose gambling behaviour is becoming a concern.

During Gambling Harm Awareness Week, we encourage people to talk about the harms associated with gambling and the effects they can have on communities, families, friends, workplaces and individuals. Gambling harm can affect self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life.

The week focuses on personal stories of recovery, which are powerful because they offer a sense of hope and optimism. They also encourage open community discussions that help to reduce stigma, which can be a barrier to help seeking.

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2022 Gambling Harm Awareness Week

The Ballarat East Neighbourhood House was pleased to be working with local gambling harm minimisation advocates and organistions to support two free events in Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2022 held at Barkly Square, Ballarat East. These events were funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

About the week

During Gambling Harm Awareness Week, we encourage people to talk about the harms associated with gambling and the effects they can have on communities, families, friends, workplaces and individuals. Gambling harm can affect self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life.

The week focuses on personal stories of recovery, which are powerful because they offer a sense of hope and optimism. They also encourage open community discussions that help to reduce stigma, which can be a barrier to help seeking.

Gambling Harm Awareness Week ran from 17 to 23 October 2022.

This year’s theme was Could gambling be affecting your wellbeing?

The question was posed to encourage people to reflect on the negative effects of gambling, such as feelings of stress or guilt, lack of concentration, or difficulty sleeping. While people may recognise these harms, they don’t always associate them with their own gambling.

To learn more about how gambling can affect a person's wellbeing, the signs of harm and where to get help, visit the Gambler's Help website for information about the effects of gambling.

These events were supported by Gambling Harm Prevention Ballarat.

A summary of the events was included on the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation website:

Storytelling, art workshops, food, fun and friendships: looking back on Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2022 community events

Child and Family Services: 'Gambling With Your Health' Event

20 October, Ballarat East Neighbourhood House

A Gambling Harm Awareness Week event, hosted by Lynda Genser (local Gambling Harm minimisation advocate).

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Cafs Cafs hosted the 'Gambling with your health?’ event in Ballarat during Gambling Harm Awareness Week.

Presented by Gambling Harm Awareness Ballarat with support from Ballarat East Neighbourhood House and Cafs, the event was hosted by Foundation Lived Experience Committee member Lynda Genser.

Community members enjoyed a free lunch and listened to a panel of local community leaders and professionals discuss gambling harm, harm prevention, reducing stigma, and the value of alternative activities to gambling. Guest speaker from ReSPIN and former members of the Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee Paul Fung then shared his personal story of gambling harm and recovery.

Pictured from L-R: Sarah Greenwood-Smith (Ballarat East Neighbourhood House), John Bradshaw (Cafs), Michaela Settle (State Labor Member for Buninyong), Lynda Genser (Foundation Lived Experience Committee member) and Dr Gabriele Byrne (Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation).

Paul FungPaul Fung

Paul started gambling as a child which followed through into his adult years and developed into an addiction. He has become a passionate advocate for raising awareness of gambling harm and uses his lived experience in many different ways. His work includes:

  • Chinese peer connection - telephone support worker and advisor
  • Three sides of the coin- using theatre to create change - performer, storyteller and mentor
  • Young leaders of the west - advisor and creator
  • ReSPIN - speakers bureau
  • Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Lived Experience Advisory Committee

Paul has shared his story of gambling harm on community, commercial, and ABC radio and has done several podcasts.

His television appearances include SBS’s insight, ABC’s You Can’t Ask That and recently on Channel 10’s The Project. His story is also part of the Rethink Addiction Campaign.

Feedback from attendees:

‘Thanks, wonderful speakers.’

‘Great event, thank you.’

‘Fantastic to learn that similar events in sporting and community groups are happening to minimise gambling harm.’

John Bradshaw – Gambler’s Help Community Engagement Officer, Cafs

John Bradshaw is the Gambler’s Help Community Engagement Officer at Child and Family Services (Cafs), Ballarat. He works with schools, community organisations and businesses across the Grampians region to promote a public health approach to gambling harm minimisation and advocate for Gambler’s Help services.

John enjoys promoting healthy alternatives to gambling in creative ways (often involving soccer!), and helping professionals and community to understand the range of help available.

Child and Family Services: 'Pictures of Hope' Watercolour Workshop

19 October, Ballarat East Neighbourhood House

Cafs watercolour.width 1280Pictured: Artwork created by participants of the 'Pictures of Hope' watercolour workshop, hosted by Cafs in Ballarat.

Child and Family Services Ballarat (Cafs) hosted a unique creative workshop, 'Pictures of Hope', at the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House during Gambling Harm Awareness Week. Bringing together their Gambler’s Help support services and the disability support services provided by local social enterprise, The Glow Project, the workshop involved therapeutic tools such as ambient music, gentle movement, mindfulness and visually enticing craft materials.

‘The participants openly explored difficult emotions, whilst focused on creating visual expressions that were beautiful, satisfying and wonderfully different from one another,’ said artist and tutor Linda Franklin.

‘Sincere thanks to Cafs, specifically John Bradshaw, for having the vision and know-how to bring together several services to support the young women cared for by The Glow Project Disability Support.’

2021 Talk Share Support

18 - 24 October 2021 was Gambling Harm Awareness Week with the theme: TALK.SHARE.SUPPORT.
The ‘Spend Your Time In New Ways’ campaign highlights alternative activities to gambling and shines a light on activities that are positive and productive for individuals and communities - such as connecting with the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House.
The campaign was developed through a partnership between Ballarat Community Health and the Central Highlands Association of Neighbourhood Houses.
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