Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Giving a voice to problem gamblers

A new initiative to give problem gamblers a voice was launched at Wollongong University today as part of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.

The Gambling Impact Society of NSW, based in Nowra, and operating across the Shoalhaven and Illawarra regions, has received $50,000 from the Australian Government to help raise awareness about problem gambling and the damage it causes to people’s lives.

With this new funding the Society will train up to 20 people who have been affected by problem gambling in public speaking who will then lead a series of community education sessions across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions as part of a pilot project to raise community awareness of this issue.

I hope that by the sharing of people’s experiences we will be able to prevent others from getting addicted and give problem gamblers the inspiration and support they need to seek help.

We know that problem gambling destroys families and ruins lives. The biggest problem is poker machines – 3 out of 4 problem gamblers are addicted to the pokies.

In the Illawarra there are 6,396 poker machines across pubs and clubs, including 1,647 in the Shoalhaven region.

Problem gamblers spend on average $21,000 on the pokies – that’s a third of the average annual salary.

The Australian Government is acting to help problem gamblers and their families. We will introduce legislation to put pre-commitment technology on every poker machine in Australia – giving gamblers the ability to set their own limits and stick to them.

We are also boosting funding for financial counselling services to help problem gamblers and their families take control of their lives.

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