Family Wellbeing Program addresses gambling harm in Aboriginal communities

Recommendations from La Trobe University research has resulted in a new family wellbeing program being rolled out across the Mallee, addressing gambling harm in Aboriginal communities.

La Trobe University researchers partnered with Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) in a research project aiming to understand both positive and negative impacts of gambling in Aboriginal communities. In response to the research recommendations, MDAS has implemented a Family Wellbeing program in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang that focuses on building strength and resilience.

Associate Professor, Social Work and Social Policy Sarah MacLean says the project was initiated by MDAS and has resulted in an evidence-based approach to better addressing gambling harm.

“MDAS wanted to know more about gambling in the communities that they work with.  Including the part in plays in people’s lives, the difficulties community members were experiencing as a result of gambling and what could be done to improve the situation.

“Since we finished the project, we have supported MDAS to implement the program, funded by VRGF.  This program helps people to manage gambling and other social issues of concern to the community.  This has been a really exciting outcome for our work.”

Associate Professor MacLean says, as in the broader population, gambling is common in the Sunraysia Aboriginal community.

“Gambling is considered normal by many people and gambling venues are a central site of social connectedness.  There are barriers to people talking openly about both the negative and positive aspects of gambling. Participants in this research articulated convincingly the need to open up community discussion about gambling. They also spoke about the need for community based programs and limits on the availability of gambling ”

Tiffany Griffin is in her second year of a Social Work degree at La Trobe and also works as the Bringing Them Home and Gambling Services Team Leader.  Tiffany says being involved in the research was a great experience while studying her degree.

“It was a very rewarding experience to be involved in the research, learn the process and the work that goes into a research project.   Furthermore it was very rewarding to speak to the community about their views on gambling and learn from them on what more we can be doing to empower the community and decrease harm from gambling.”

“Recommendations were made throughout the research that we have implemented into our program.  Such as encouraging more conversations about gambling, but less in a clinical setting, so more in group activities and yarning circle.  As well as encouraging community to engage in alternate activities other than gambling and to focus more on overall Indigenous empowerment.”

Visit Gambling in Two Regional Australian Aboriginal Communities: A Social Practice Analysis to access the report.  A community report is available via MDAS’s website; Gambling in the Sunraysia Aboriginal Community.


Media enquiries
Ashlee Ryan, Advisor, Marketing & Engagement  
T 03 5051 4069