The Consumer Voices program was funded in April last year for a 12-month pilot by the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund to train peer educators and deliver a minimum of 40 community education sessions in the South Coast, Shoalhaven, Illawarra and Southern Tablelands regions of NSW.

This built upon a previous program (March 2012 – June 2015) funded by the Department of Social Services. Sadly this NSW funding has now come to end and the program will go into abeyance (again) until we find another grant to support it. Kate Roberts and Barbara Bicego (project coordinators) would like to thank all the Consumer Voice educators, Gambling Help counsellors and community agencies who made this program such a success this past year. Fingers-crossed we will find funding for another round soon. Meantime here are some of the outcomes from this 2016 -17 round:

From May 2016 – March 2017 the Consumer Voices program delivered 46 community education sessions and conducted a successful residential weekend training program 25-27 August 2016 for 9 participants (5 new recruits and 4 refreshing speakers). The program partnered with 38 individual community services to deliver a CV session to 979 participants and presented to multiple number of community services who have attended.

The program received ongoing support from counsellors from Gambling Help Services- Mission Australia (Nowra, Wollongong, Surrey Hills) in delivering the program in 2016 -17 and newly partnered with Gambling Help Service – Anglicare Goulburn for the Far South Coast and Southern Tablelands.
The GIS was invited to take part in the ABC – Can’t Ask That Program
http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/you-cant-ask-that/ and a number of our Consumer Voices speakers were interviewed.

The Gambling Episode is now available for viewing on
http://www.iview.abc.net.au/programs/you-cant-ask-that/LE1617H010S00 .

Whilst these activities were not CV structured sessions they were important activities to reduce stigma and stereotypes and included CV trained spokespeople. Likewise there were a number of sessions during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week whereby we supporting screening events for the ABC documentary film – Ka-Ching and the film -‘Broke’.

All of the Consumer Voices sessions received extremely positive feedback on how it had increased awareness of gambling issues along with how and where to obtain help for problem gambling. The formal evaluations of each session overwhelmingly demonstrated high levels of satisfaction on the majority of the 6-item satisfaction evaluation.

Qualitative feedback indicated listening to the personal story continues to be a powerful method of educating key frontline services and the general public along with increasing awareness of and access to Gambling Help services. Some examples of what participants valued the most in the presentations are as follows:

They were informed. They knew what they were talking about. They had been affected by the issue themselves (yr13 student –Youthworks Session- Loftus)

(The) quiz made things realistic, knowing the statistics (Community Justice Interagency Group)
Personal story of reformed gambler a real connection to the problems involved (TAFE Welfare student-Bomaderry)

(It) was a really good presentation aimed at the right audience and well received. ((Community Justice Interagency Group)

Having time spent answering my copius questions (TAFE student-Bomaderry)

Real and true life story helps to put another angle on the impact of gambling the family (Family Support Service worker-Nowra)

I liked and appreciated hearing Ralph’s personal testimony of his gambling addiction and how honest he was and how he got help. Also how he had overcome his addiction and the steps that he took (yr. 13 –Youthworks session-Loftus)

Consumer Voices is a very fantastic resource to all (Interagency Queanbeyan)

Information on how to help Gamblers (GP Medical Practice- Nowra)

Links to actions we can take (GP Medical Practice Nowra)

I learnt a lot through Nick’s personal experiences it was an eye opening (Yr 11 student Nowra)

Real stores form someone with real experiences (Yr 11 student Nowra)

The practical information, prevalence and the consumer story (Ulladulla Interagency)

I liked and appreciated hearing Ralph’s personal testimony of his gambling addiction and how honest he was and how he got help. Also how he had overcome his addiction and the steps that he took (yr. 13 –Youthworks session-Loftus)

All of it was excellent, the life experience was very moving (U3A – Bateman’s Bay)

Real life examples of the struggles people have gone through (staff member – Goulburn Mulaware Council)

The presenters were engaging and made the information and statistics relatable (yr. 13 –Youthworks session -Loftus)

The real life example of hope after gambling and good information and honest accurate help available (Senor Rights Group – Moruya)

The CV program developed a successful partnership with the Illawarra Institute of TAFE which enabled the delivery of a series of TAFE Workshops in 2016 & 2017. The CV (1-hour session) was incorporated into a one-day workshop delivering the VET accredited (htttp://training.gov.au/Training/Details/CHCGMB001) Assess the Needs of Clients with Problem Gambling Issues to local community services. The success of this partnership is highlighted in comments from the Head Teacher (Liz Henigan) of Community Services at TAFE Nowra:

The responses were 100% positive, and particular mention was made of the value of the Consumer Voices sessions. Having listened to one of the sessions myself, and discussed it with my students later, I think it was the openness and honesty of the Consumer Voices members which really engaged people. Many participants noted that it was the first time they had received training about Problem Gambling.

One–Hundred participants attended the 10 TAFE workshops across the Far South Coast, Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Tablelands regions. They came from a wide range of organisations, including church agencies, Mission Australia, Barnardo’s, Relationships Australia, Flourish Australia (previously Richmond PRA), Anglicare, Salvation Army, Schizophrenia Fellowship NSW, Care Inc, Lifeline, ADHC/FACS, Richmond Fellowship, Katungal Aboriginal Medical Service, Grand Pacific Health, Dept. Human Services, Community Gateway, Regional Aged Care Assessment, Southern Care, Community Health, Southern Cross Housing, Women’s Health centres as well as private companies and TAFE and University students.

As stated by Liz:
With a range like that, I think you would agree that we managed to increase gambling awareness and skills within a significant range of south coast and highlands/tablelands community services!
We think that just about sums it up.

Once again “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”-it’s an amazing program in need of some sustainable and ongoing funding so we can keep rolling it out.
So until that time -it’s goodbye from us – for now!

All the best
Kate and Barbara