BENDIGO will host the region's first ever forum on problem gambling in multicultural communities on Wednesday.
Leaders in the gambling prevention field will discuss challenges facing those from ethnic backgrounds and listen to perspectives from those within the Bendigo community. Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) will host the event in a partnership with Monash University and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria.
LCMS executive officer Noemi Cummings said the issue of problem gambling in multicultural communities was often overlooked.
"Problem gambling is an issue that impacts all cultures and social classes within Australia, but for the multicultural community it is a topic that can be swept under the rug due to cultural practices," she said.
The forum is aimed at individuals and organisations working in multicultural communities in central Victoria.
LCMS urges anyone who works in or has an interest in issues affecting multicultural communities to attend.
It comes a few weeks after figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulations showed punters lost $46.2 million at Bendigo's 614 pokie machines at 11 venues in the last financial year.
Anglicare Victoria chief executive officer Paul McDonald said problem gambling was growing in rural and regional communities, affecting families of all cultural backgrounds.
"The fact is, the pokies are saturating Bendigo and its neighbouring rural areas, and it's a disgrace," he said.
"Nearly every pub and club is proposing to its clientele, come on and gamble, and don't socialise."
libThe forum will be held from 3pm to 5pm on Wednesday, July 30, at Bendigo TAFE Mundy Street campus.