Page 3297 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022
gets down to the compliance officers and all of those on the ground who work hard to make all of this come together.
The ACT, because of our historic gaming model, has always led the way in the prevention of gambling harm. Because of the fact that the vast majority of our gaming machines are owned and operated by community clubs, we have always risen above the pack with regard to protecting those who are potentially sucked into the whirlpool of gambling harm. We also have a very strong regulatory framework in this space, and it is up to the Gambling and Racing Commission to enforce the rules to make absolutely certain that our gaming operators are doing the right thing.
The money that is spent in this line is very clearly money that is well spent. It has become a heavily contested space in this place in the last six years or so, and often the war of words around ideology does not assist in creating the best outcomes for everyone. At the policy level, we are going down the path of some major changes, albeit that that process appears to have hit a number of hurdles and what was originally forecast to occur in this area may not be rolled out exactly in the way that it was first mooted.
The government has often not listened well enough to the clubs with regard to their very sound advice on protecting patrons from gaming harm. However, there are occasions when the clubs are listened to. I was pleased to be an attendee at the Gambling Harm Awareness Week breakfast at the Erindale Vikings club on Tuesday morning, along with my government colleagues Mr Rattenbury and Dr Paterson. I am really excited by what Vikings announced on Tuesday morning with regard to the latest gambling harm prevention measures that are being rolled out at the Vikings group at their four venues—in Wanniassa, Chisholm, Lanyon and the Tuggeranong town centre.
What they have announced is the Ask for Andy program. “Andy” is the generic name that has been given to the gambling contact officers in the Vikings venues. If, while you are in one of those venues, you feel as though you are in trouble—you feel overwhelmed by feelings of gambling harm and associated addiction issues, or that you are being dragged in by the force of the whirlpool—you do not have to approach someone and explain all of that. All you have to do is say to one of the staff members, “I would like to see Andy. Is Andy available?” That is it. That is all you have to do.
Andy is caring, approachable, mature, supportive and someone you can lean on to provide support without judgement. Andy is the generic name given to the on-duty gambling contact officers—the specially trained staff who are in the club to support and provide assistance to patrons who may be negatively impacted by gambling. Each of the Vikings clubs has at least one GCO on duty at all times, and the Andys undertake training to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge that they need to assist and support patrons. They have over 40 Andys across the Vikings group, who are well equipped to handle and identify gambling harm. Andy is not their real name, but when you ask for Andy you will be taken to a private space for a cup of tea and to have a safe chat. Andy will offer you the opportunity to discuss how you are being impacted by gambling and can connect you with support services straightaway, or you can do that in the future. Andy can also talk about self-exclusion programs and all of that stuff, which is part of our framework here.