Introducing the ‘Consumer Voices’ Project
Gambling Impact Society (GIS) has funding from NSW Government to roll-out the very successful Consumer Voices (CVs) Project in Southwest Sydney and Hunter/Newcastle 2019 – 2020. Consumer Voices is now up and running and making bookings for education sessions in both regions.
Individuals’ lived experience stories of recovery from gambling related problems and harms are at the heart of Consumer Voices an exciting and innovative community education project from Gambling Impact Society. Gambling can have serious impacts in the life of a person who is gambling, that of people around them, and the community. The aim of Consumer Voices is to raise community awareness about gambling related problems as a public health issue, and to foster primary prevention, active help seeking, and support for affected people.
Personal Stories are Powerful
Telling personal stories is a powerful strategy for educating people about health issues, and the cumulative lived experience wisdom of the CVs team of volunteer peer educators is at the heart of the project. After training CVs team members go out into the community in the company of a local gambling counsellor to present education sessions. CVs peer educators are community role models for journeys through recovery. Most importantly they engender hope letting people know that recovery is possible, and help is available. The gambling counsellors inform people about how to get help for gambling related problems locally, and in NSW generally.
During Consumer Voices training retreats, team members have worked to craft their lived experience stories of gambling problems and recovery in a way to engage and educate their audience. The process of being a Consumer Voice is empowering for the volunteers. Engaging with the community in a positive way and drawing on their lived experience to help others further enhances team members own personal recovery.
Enacting A Public Health approach
Consumer Voices enacts a public health approach to gambling related problems. Engendering hope, and informed critical analysis is central to this approach. Historically approaches co-opting the bio-medical model have functioned to situate people who experience problems with gambling as themselves being the problem. This is encapsulated in labelling someone as a ‘problem gambler’, viewing them along some dimension of mental health pathology, and not seeing them as a person in the context of their whole of life experience. When people are made to believe that they are the problem, it is hard to find hope and motivation to access services that can help e.g. counselling, or to even imagine that change is possible. Labelling, blaming and stigmatising individuals, and encouraging them to believe that they are the problem is a barrier to getting help. This works insidiously to keep people gambling, and the problem invisible. Affected family members and others are left out of the picture.
In the process of blaming the person who is gambling, gambling behaviour is de-contextualised from the actions of the hegemonic and profit driven gambling industry and the enmeshment of governments with the industry. The gambling industry is able to obscure responsibility for impacts of gambling harms on individuals, families, and communities, and similarly governments that benefit from revenues. In a public health approach, the gambling industry and governments are recognised as central to gambling related problems, as big tobacco is central to smoking related problems.
Consumer Voices in Southwest Sydney
The team for Southwest Sydney now includes three new team members from the Fairfield & Liverpool areas, and ongoing volunteers from the broader Sydney area.
Please consider booking a Consumer Voices Presentation to hear their stories. The FREE education sessions take 1-HOUR and are led by a Consumer Voices trained speaker/peer educator who may be a recovering gambler, or someone affected by the gambling of someone close to them, and who tells their personal story, and a local State Government funded gambling counsellor.
Consumer Voices education sessions are aimed at any group where people are interested in learning more about gambling related problems. Sessions are suitable for team meetings, seminar days, community groups, and continuing professional development for health and community workers.
Please make a booking for your community group or workplace team.
From the SW Sydney CV Project Officer – Barbara
Rolling out CVs in Southwest Sydney has been an exciting experience for me and I have enjoyed it very much. I have appreciated the valuable input of all the volunteers, workers and agencies I have engaged with. I would especially like to thank Atem Atem and all the participants at Fairfield Multi-Cultural Interagency – you are all so dynamic and inspiring. I would also like to thank all the counsellors at Western and Southwestern Sydney Counsellors Forum – the team members who go out with our volunteers. I would especially like to thank Chris Mosses and Ian Koh for their ongoing support.
I am a psychologist with a long-term interest in promoting understanding of gambling as a public health issue.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Project Officer Consumer Voices Project
Gambling Impact Society (NSW) Inc
Tel: 0400 661 637