A unique program launched today will help reduce gambling damage in indigenous communities across NSW by creating a safe online space.

The Talking About Gambling (TAG) project is community driven and developed by experts from the NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service and the Australian National University (ANU) along with other research partners.

According to Dr. Megan Whitty is often referred to as a “hidden addiction” to gambling in indigenous communities. However, starting an open and honest discussion can help remove some of the stigma so the community can see if gambling is a problem and how it could be addressed.

“This project will allow participants to lead this discussion,” said Dr. Whitty.

“They will be part of a closed online group so they can speak openly about gambling in their community and its implications.”

Dr. Whitty says indigenous peoples are at greater risk of gambling damage and are less likely to seek help.

“Mainstream services are not always nuanced enough to encourage indigenous people to get help,” said Dr. Whitty.

“This is the first program of its kind in Australia. It is based on empowering the indigenous peoples and enabling them to make informed decisions. It’s a lot less prescriptive.

“Assessment will be key. If this program is successful, we hope that at some point it can be more widely used. “

Ashley Gordon of the NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service says using popular social media platforms like Facebook can be a fantastic way to get people talking.

“Indigenous peoples face a number of obstacles when it comes to accessing gambling assistance,” said Gordon.

“This program removes some of those barriers – you can get help without leaving your home.

“We will learn from the information and advice of our participants and thus better serve indigenous peoples across the state.”

The project kicks off today in Taree, followed by 13 other locations across the state.

Further information on the engagement can be found on the TAG Facebook page.

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