Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 October 2022) . . Page.. 3321 ..
MR RATTENBURY: Yes, I do. I think that this an area that is really problematic. Frankly, if you just chat to people in the community now, when you ask: “What do you think about gambling advertising on TV?” the answer, almost universally, is, “It is out of control.” Parents, particularly, are concerned about the amount of gambling advertising that their children are being exposed to, the normalisation of it, the fact that you cannot watch the football without being bombarded with these sorts of messages. I think it is extremely problematic.
To that end, I have raised these matters with the incoming federal ministers. For context, there are two federal ministers with responsibility in this space. One is the Minister for Social Services and the other is the Minister for Communications. The Minister for Communications has responsibility for the Interactive Gambling Act and the Minister for Social Services has responsibility for the Gambling Measures Act 2012. I have written to both those ministers since they have taken office. I am very pleased to say that I have had some engagement with both of their offices.
I met with the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, shortly after writing to her. From that meeting, I think she really recognises and understands the issues and I was very encouraged by her response. As we know, a parliamentary inquiry on online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm has subsequently been announced, following a referral from Minister Rishworth. I am quite optimistic that we can work very collaboratively with the new federal government to examine the sorts of policy changes and regulatory changes we might make in this space in order to address these issues.
MS ORR: Minister, what awareness-raising initiatives is the government planning to introduce to reduce the impacts of gambling harm on our community, particularly groups in the population who are susceptible to online gambling harm?
MR RATTENBURY: The ACT government does fund a range of initiatives already to support people who might be experiencing gambling harm, including from online gambling, through the gambling harm prevention and mitigation fund. Under that, there are a whole series of initiatives. The ACT Gambling Support Service receives nearly $950,000 a year—it is delivered by Relationships Australia—to provide specialised counselling, at no charge, to members of the community who may be experiencing gambling harm, including friends and family of people who experience gambling issues. The service provides telephone and face-to-face counselling and peer support, as I touched on earlier in regard to Markus Fischer, and outreach programs to the industry and community groups.
There is Gambling Help Online, to which the ACT government made a contribution last financial year. It is nationally run between Australian governments, and ACT residents have 24/7 access to that service. We have Gambling Harm Awareness Week, which I have spoken about. There is a research project by the University of Canberra called “Understanding gambling harms in the digital age”, which is designed to provide an evidence base for assessing awareness and understanding gambling harm among the general public and among those who gamble, to inform our ACT gambling harm prevention strategy. There are a couple of others.