Consumer Voices July 2021-December 2022

Our latest Consumer Voices program concluded in December 2022 and we would like to share some of the findings from the evaluation report we submitted to ORG in January 2023 this program built upon previously ORG funded Consumer Voices/Lived Experience projects. However, the main point of difference with previous programs, was the reorganisation of the gambling treatment services and being contracted to deliver the Consumer Voices service to all the newly identified regions (10) across the state of NSW. Previously ORG funded Consumer Voices/ Lived Experience projects had been targeted specifically to one or two Local Government Areas. The project’s objective was therefore to have greater reach into NSW and the GIS was contracted to deliver 80 community education across the state through both online and face to face mediums.


Speaker Training

The project is committed to skills training for all lived experiences speakers before engagement in program delivery and has continued to draw upon the GIS experiences in training from previous Consumer Voices projects (2012-15, 2016-17, 2019-20). The training is divided into a two-day core speaking skills program facilitated by GIS project officers and a one-day Media Skills workshop, facilitated by a senior lecturer in communications (also a health journalist) from the University of Technology Sydney. This latter session is delivered at least a month after the core-training so participants can digest core training before going on to attend the media skills training.

The purpose of the core training is to provide speakers with the knowledge, skills, and support to:

  • Prepare and present their own personal story of the impact of gambling in their lives
  • Increase speakers’ skills and knowledge in relation to public

Presentation and working with the media

  • Enable speakers to be involved in education initiatives
  • Provide people living with gambling harms the skills and knowledge to improve their sense of well-being and quality of life
  • Provide participants with opportunities to identify their own strengths and develop resilience and self-esteem to continue living a fulfilling life.



The project was required to offer online face-to face and hybrid models of presentation across the state. This resulted in more online session (52) than face to face presentations (27) and four (4) hybrid sessions (refer Appendix 2) delivered across the state. The GIS maintained technical support via their IT project support officer to assist CV speakers and GIS staff to maintain and developing skills in online presentations.

In total eighty-three (83) Consumer Voices sessions were delivered to the community, plus four (4) filmed narratives for ORG and eighteen (18) additional (fee for service) sessions. These sessions were delivered by sixteen (16) peer educators and hosted by sixty-seven (67) including five (5) fee-for-service agencies across NSW. Twelve (12) of these agencies hosted multiple sessions ranging from 2-8 sessions.

There were: one thousand nine hundred and thirty-three (1,933) recorded individual participant attendees. Other attendees included unlimited listeners to the podcasts completed in November 2021by 2NUR (radio station affiliated with Newcastle University) for their Wellbeing program and unlimited viewers of the ORG films made public through the online GambleAware website and other ORG communications. Please refer to Appendix 2 for the full list of dates, hosts, type of audience and the delivery locations.

In addition to the 1-hour community education presentations, the GIS were tasked in this project to assist ORG in developing some lived experience video film clips for community education use within their GambleAware website/Facebook page and through other ORG communications. These were to be short segments in response to specific ORG developed questions as well as films of the longer personal narratives for potential use in GIS community education activities. It was hoped the latter, would prove a useful resource for potential sessions in some regional areas in NSW where lived experience speakers were not available.

In addition to the projects core work there were requests for additional sessions provided to organisations already funded by ORG. As per our contract, these organisations were treated as fee for service customers and invoiced accordingly, including other sections of ORG itself such as the Reclaim the Game project an ORG partnership with RACGP to produce a podcast, which included lived experience speakers. However, it must be acknowledged that these sessions still drew upon the training and expertise developed from the activities of the Consumer Voices Project 2020-21. These 22 additional sessions, serviced five agencies including the ORG ‘Reclaim the Game’ program and the Royal Australia College of GPs (RACGP). These sessions reached 244 participants and unlimited listeners to the RACGP podcast.


Feedback from session participants

The Participant Evaluation Survey collected both qualitative and quantitative impact data from 444 individual session attendees representing 21.5 % of participants. Session attendees recorded consistent scores of 4 to 5 on a Likert scale of 1-5 (1 being low) in areas of increased understanding of gambling problems, knowledge of where to get help, how to gain additional information and how to refer to GambleAware services (see Table 1). This data indicates a high level of satisfaction amongst participants.



(Click to expand the table)

Table 1: Participant Scores (averages) by Evaluation Question 20



The qualitative feedback indicated the personal story was the “most liked” aspect of the community education session. Individual commentary specified how much participants valued the lived experience speakers openly sharing their personal journey with gambling harms. For example:

The honesty and openness of the speaker with lived experience of gambling.

The personal stories that were given. It was easy to understand a situation when it comes first-hand from someone.

It was also evident these personal narratives connected deeply with some audience members’ own situations:

I learnt a lot from listening to (name witheld) story. I felt very connected to his story as someone who has overused prescription medication to cope with overwhelming emotion in the past and trying very hard to recognise and change my behaviour. This informative discussion will very much help me to understand and support people experiencing gambling issues.

As a problem gambler in my past, it was extremely informative to hear about the impact someone’s gambling had on them. The information provided was very good and I hope you continue doing the great work you are doing!

Well-spoken and relevant information on lots of areas. I have lived through this myself with a family member, however, a brilliant honest delivery.

Participants noted the value of the lived experience stories in reducing stigma and judgements towards impacted by gambling harms:

I loved hearing the lived experience shared in the presentation from (name withheld) and the importance of reducing stigma and judgment on a person who has a gambling addiction.

The breadth of the learnings from these sessions were specifically mentioned:

…(the) testimony taught me a lot about gambling and the effects it has on families. How to seek assistance when in need of help. NSW gamble care. How people get hooked, the pokies machines. impacts of family, society, and our partners.

Its relevance to mental health. The presentation focused on more than just gambling by discussing the health problems it can trigger. It also highlighted the truth that it can affect anybody even ambitious high-achievers.

In Summary

It is evident there is significant community interest in receiving this kind of gambling harm awareness educational support. The Consumer Voices  2021-22 program’s evaluative feedback echoes the findings of previously delivered GIS CV/LE projects, that the personal narrative is a powerful medium to engage audiences, transfer valuable information and raise community awareness on issues of gambling harms. As previously stated by one of the GambleAware counsellors:

This project stands out as the trained CV person adds a level of depth and insight that cannot be obtained from other presentations.

From a Lived Experience peer educator’s perspective:

The Consumer Voices project is something that I wish had access to when I was in active addiction 22 years ago. I did not know anything about the illness, what it would lead to or how to get help. This project puts the word out there in real time, language and personal contact. My feeling is that ignorance is not bliss. There is quicksand out there that sucks people in before they know it. This project puts the word out there and means so much more than a quickly mumbled sentence saying one should gamble responsibly at the end of an advertisement. The more people in the real world who are given a heads up, the better for others like me, and society in general.

Participants valued learning about prevalence of the issues, referral pathways for client support, how to the access up-to-date resources for later follow-up and ideas for prevention of gambling harms:

… knowing what support services are out there

information re prevalence & support available for people

Mentions about prevention as a crucial take on the issue.

The combination of presenters was popular:

It was well presented, and I learnt a lot and appreciated the mix of teacher -student education and lived experience in the presentations.

The following comment appears to sum up the written and observed sentiments from many participants in the sessions:

I’m very honoured to have sat in on this wonderful, informative presentation. Thank you to all the presenters, especially (name withheld) for your inspiring story it was very valuable information and insightful

This 2021-22 CV program demonstrated ongoing demand for meaningful community awareness and education on gambling harms and support across the state of NSW. The GIS has also identified the need for a stable and consistent funding stream to support this form of project and the creation of an established program similar to those established by governments in Victoria and South Australia.


Acknowledgement of ORG Support

The GIS thanks the Office of Responsible Gambling for their financial and professional support of the Consumer Voices project 2021-22 and their ongoing commitment to a public health approach to addressing gambling harms. We look forward to the opportunity to work collaboratively again.


Kate Roberts

Executive Officer