Gambling is a significant issue in New Zealand. With $5.2 million lost to gambling every day in New Zealand, ($1.9 billion per year), this problem cannot be ignored.
Harmful gambling can profoundly impact on the physical, emotional, and financial health of family, friends, workmates and others in the wider community. One in six New Zealanders say a family member has gone without something they needed or a bill has gone unpaid because of gambling.
When parents have problems with gambling, it is often children who suffer most. Young children can miss out on basic essentials if a parent has gambled away household money. Gambling can lead to broken homes, damaged relationships, physical and emotional harm, and a higher risk of the children becoming problem gamblers themselves. A single person’s harmful gambling can affect five to ten people, and children are vulnerable when it’s their parent or other close relative.
Gablefree Day was established in 2005 to raise awareness of this issue. Since then the day has grown exponentially. September 1st has become firmly established as the national awareness day for problem gambling and over the years it has been embraced by those working in the sector, local communities and the media.
Every year, events and activities are held all around the country in recognition of the day. An essential part of this is community engagement – working with local communities and organisations who share Problem Gambling Foundation’s kaupapa.
Problem Gambling Foundation public health national manager Tony Milne said Gamblefree Day was the major awareness-raising day for the issue in New Zealand.
“The impact of problem gambling shouldn’t be underestimated,” Mr Milne said. “Each year in New Zealand an estimated 60,000 people with a gambling problem have a direct impact on the lives of 300,000 to 600,000 other people.”
The outcomes of Gamblefree Day 2012 can be measured in so many different ways.
The Asian Family Services team have used Gamblefree Day campaigns over the years to help break down barriers and reduce the stigma associated with problem gambling in the Asian community. The story competition they held this year attracted over 120 entries and over 70 volunteers were recruited. The competition was used to foster open conversation about problem gambling in the community and as a way for people to express their experiences and thoughts on problem gambling.
Mapu Maia, the Pasifika team at the Problem Gambling Foundation, ran a children’s song and poem competition in conjunction with Tupu Services and Radio Samoa. Over 100 children read their poems on air and 10 children sang their songs. The contestants wrote poems or songs that often reflected their own experiences of gambling.
Rufo Pupualii, a health promoter and counsellor at Mapu Maia, says the children’s poem and song competition was a great way to connect with families and help parents address any issues with gambling. “We are helping more than 50 of the families that we connected with through the children’s competition this year,” she says. “The main problem they have is with pokie machines, but many also experience problems with TAB gambling, Housie and tote tickets.”
Andree Froude, Problem Gambling Foundation Communications Manager, says Gamblefree Day is not just about raising awareness of the harm caused by gambling. “It is about ‘friend raising’, engaging with communities and fostering open discussions about gambling around the country,” she says.
As one young child said to one of our staff members at a Gamblefree Day event…”I am glad we are here today because if we weren’t, my mum would be gambling.”
The Problem Gambling Foundation extends a huge thank you to the Tindall Foundation for supporting us in our work.
It was great to see so many press articles coming out of Gamble Free Day this year. See below.
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Otago Daily Times
Nelson – Scribe bustin’ rhymes for problem gambling
Rotorua Daily Post – Scribe discusses gambling with Boys’ High students
Hawkes Bay Today – Songs take aim at problem gambling
Southland Times – Scribe shares story to end gambling harm
Otago Daily Times – Pokies cost Scribe more than money
Nelson Mail – Rap now crusade against gambling