In 2015, our PEACE Multicultural Services in collaboration with the Office for Problem Gambling launched the first ever “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Gambling Help Action Plan 2015” following extensive consultation with over 20 different communities. The action plan highlights an enormous need to address stigma associated with gambling problems and seeking help. The idea of the Community Ambassadors Project came out as a result of community consultations on “Have Your Say Day” held in May 2015.
Prevalence studies reveal that around 60-70 per cent of Australians participate in some form of gambling. The Australian Government’s Problem Gambling website estimates that up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers. The problem is highly stigmatized in Australian communities and even more so in CALD communities. Research indicates that in most CALD communities, help seeking outside one’s family is considered to be an expression of the family’s weakness in addressing problems internally and thus an indication of failure, therefore, people from CALD communities hesitate from seeking support outside their community.
The PEACE Community Ambassadors project is a strategy to ensure that CALD communities have access to information and support services related to gambling problems. 19 ambassadors from Indian, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Philippines, Afghanistan, Iran, Italy, Greece, Kurdistan, Burma, 6 different African countries and a representative of international students were selected after a thorough recruitment process.
The Community Ambassadors are individuals who are well connected with their own communities or have been endorsed by their community leaders or are leaders themselves who are interested in learning about the issue of gambling, how to recognise the problem and its impact on the community. All these ambassadors come from extremely diverse backgrounds and regardless of their age, have rich life experiences.
These ambassadors completed a 4 day training that involved training on professional conduct, gambling addiction and hearing from consumer voice representatives.
With the support of PEACE and other gambling help services, these very enthusiastic ambassadors will facilitate the delivery of information and promote an ongoing conversation regarding problem gambling in their communities.
Community ambassadors will collectively be the core group helping PEACE Multicultural Services for developing culturally appropriate resources including the development of a gambling help website.