Victoria launches pilot initiative to tackle gambling harm

| By Robert Fletcher
The Victoria government is to pilot a new programme designed to deliver tailored treatment and support services to people in the Australian state being impacted by gambling harm.
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The scheme was developed based on feedback from support service Gambler’s Help and is being funded through the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, with the aim of improving pathways for people seeking treatment for co-existing conditions such as a mental health issue in addition to gambling harm.

The programme will equip allied health professions with a new way of screening patients to determine the best treatments. It will also increase access to, and training for, practitioners who operate in the mental health, alcohol and other drugs sectors and are treating people vulnerable to gambling harm.

Patients will be asked if they gamble, with practitioners then able to refer them to the most suitable treatment and services, helping remove some of the barriers faced by people seeking help.

Training will be led by Dr Jane Oakes, a clinical consultant, and Tony Clarkson, principal clinical advisor to the Foundation. It will be provided to practitioners at Ballarat Community Health, Child and Family Services and the Salvation Army Health Services.

“Everyone experiences gambling harm differently and tailored treatment options are so important for long-term recovery – which is exactly what this tool provides,” minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, said.

The launch of the pilot scheme comes after the Victorian government earlier this month also announced a series of new measures and requirements to help protect consumers from harm when gambling online and promote responsible gambling.

Introduction of the new rules will be staggered, with the first coming into effect on 31 July, whereby wagering service providers must provide all customers with monthly activity statements. The previous month’s statement must also be available by request or through their online betting account.

Other new measures to be introduced include customers being able to access a record of their betting account transactions, wagering service providers ensuring all relevant people complete responsible service of wagering training courses, and that customers can create a new betting account without being required to consent to direct marketing.

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