Seeking support to help problem gamblers

CONVERSATION: Community group representatives at the gambling in multicultural communities forum in Bendigo on Wednesday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

CONVERSATION: Community group representatives at the gambling in multicultural communities forum in Bendigo on Wednesday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

REMOVING the stigma attached to asking for help was the first step in supporting people with gambling problems in multicultural communities.

A range of Bendigo organisations attended a forum on gambling in multicultural communities on Wednesday, where they discussed ways to encourage people to seek out help.

Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services executive officer Noemi Cummings said seeking support was often perceived as a sign of weakness in other cultures.

"People are more likely to share their problems with a friend or relative, but talking to a stranger is a great leap of faith," she said.

"They may be coming from backgrounds where it's not so popular or accepted to ask for assistance.

"A good way to encourage people to seek out help could be to have a community champion - someone from that community who has managed to beat problem gambling."

Representatives from Lifeline, St Luke's Anglicare, Bendigo Law Courts, Bendigo Community Health and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) joined researchers from Monash University to begin the conversation about tackling the problem in Bendigo.

Ms Cummings said the ease and accessibility of gambling in Australia could also encourage people from diverse backgrounds to gamble.

"They come to Australia and think that gambling is just part of the culture," she said.

"Some people often have a different concept about what gambling is, they just see it as a game.

"We're starting to see new migrants in Bendigo and Castlemaine get into gambling."

Ms Cummings said bringing the different organisations together allowed them to understand the function of each group.

Shepparton also held an ECCV forum on Thursday, with further events planned for Ballarat and Mildura.

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