Community action for wellbeing

Introduction

We aim to contribute to the development of theoretical and practice knowledge about determinants of community wellbeing with a particular focus on supporting communities experiencing entrenched harms.

Working in partnership with community organisations, we use collaborative research methods to define problems and explore and implement effective and evidence-based responses.

Staff

Details of research projects

Publications

Gambling in the Sunraysia Aboriginal Community: An Exploratory Study

MDAS report [PDF 513KB]

This is one of the first pieces of research in Victoria to explore gambling in the Aboriginal community. This report shows that gambling, particularly on poker machines and bingo, promises solace, entertainment and hope of financial reward in the Sunraysia Aboriginal community, in a context where many people have less access to wealth then the broader community, carry heavy responsibilities, live with deep pain, and do not have access to the resources they need to easily address the problems they and their family members face. Whether fleetingly or in an enduring way, gambling promises something people are looking for.

At the same time, people eloquently described the high price many people in the Sunraysia Aboriginal community pay for gambling, particularly on poker machines. In contrast, participants’ accounts suggested that bingo, when run by a community organisation rather than commercially, was associated with relatively few harms. Participants articulated actions required to address gambling harm.

This research was initiated by, and conducted in partnership, with the Mallee District Aboriginal Service (MDAS).

Impacts of Gambling on Young Aboriginal People in Gippsland and East Gippsland: An Exploratory Study

GEGAC Report [PDF 2.75MB]

Research findings

Our recent research explored the experiences and impacts of gambling – their own and other people’s – on young Aboriginal people in Gippsland and East Gippsland. It found gambling appears widespread and popular in the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal community, including among young people.

Community members identify the positive aspects of gambling, and also see the harms, including for young people and children. Young people and the broader community have some concerns about discussing gambling harm. However, it is apparent from this research that gambling is connected to other issues that services and community members are seeking to address, such as drug and alcohol, mental illness, children’s welfare, poverty and deprivation. Gambling is both a cause and a consequence of problems in these areas.

This research demonstrates that young people and other community members have compelling reasons to gamble, from needing money, to needing psychological relief and social connections. Reinforcing this, many other factors encourage gambling such as widespread advertising, the appeal of venues, accessibility of online gambling, and family and community comfort. Furthermore, the research demonstrated that online gambling is extending opportunities to gamble and the scale of harm. Community members expressed considerable concern about the impact of advertising and online gambling.

This research was commissioned by and conducted in partnership with the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative (GEGAC).

Media

Read more about our research report in the Sunraysia Aboriginal Community: An Exploratory Study, in the Sunraysia Daily. (link)

Projects

A family intervention for methamphetamine use in Aboriginal communities

This pilot study is examining whether the evidence-based Aboriginal Family Wellbeing Program (FWP) has the potential to help support ice users and their families in rural Victoria and Central Coast NSW. Recent research by Sarah MacLean with colleagues from MDAS and the Onemda Koori Health Unit showed that families are central to Aboriginal people reducing and stopping ice use. However, there is little published evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to reduce ice use and associated harms for Aboriginal people.

Findings to date demonstrate that FWP is effective in improving Aboriginal participants’ empowerment and wellbeing .

As a result of this study we are training and supporting workers in different Victorian sites  to deliver the intervention to individuals and families in their communities.

Details of research

Partners: Mallee District Aboriginal Services  (MDAS) and Central Coast Primary Care NSW, incorporating Guri Wagir Aboriginal Health.

LTU Chief Investigators:  Dr Mary Whiteside, Dr Sarah MacLean, Dr Sarah Callinan and Professor Patrick Keyer.

Timeframe: 2016-2017.

Funder: Building Healthy Communities research focus area at La Trobe University.

Gambling in the Sunraysia Aboriginal Community: An Exploratory Study

This is one of the first pieces of research in Victoria to look at the impact of gambling in the Aboriginal community. LTU and MDAS researchers interviewed 26 community members, including 11 MDAS workers, in the Sunraysia Aboriginal community. This final report  provides an overview of gambling and reports back on concrete suggestions by community members for change.

Details of research

Partner: Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS).

LTU Chief Investigators: Dr Sarah MacLean, Dr Mary Whiteside and Kathleen Maltzahn, in partnership with MDAS’ Richard Vaughan, Tiffany Griffin, Darlene Thomas and Raelene Stephens.

Timeframe: 2016-2017.

Funder: Mallee District Aboriginal Services, with funding from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Impacts of Gambling on Young Aboriginal People in Gippsland and East Gippsland: An Exploratory Study

This project explored the impact of gambling on Aboriginal young people in Gippsland and East Gippsland. The research investigated both young people’s own gambling and the impact of other people’s gambling on them. GEGAC staff interviewed 24 people from the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal communities, and La Trove University research staff conducted a focus group discussion with six GEGAC staff. The final report  provides an overview of gambling as it impacts on young people and includes recommendations for action.

Details of research

Partner: the Gippsland  and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative (GEGAC).

LTU Chief Investigators: Dr Sarah MacLean, Dr Mary Whiteside and Kathleen Maltzahn, in partnership with GEGAC’s Ashlee Robertson, Ann Briggs and Clare Haussegger.

Timeframe: 2016-2018.

Funder: GEGAC, with funding from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

It’s not all about the Money

Through this innovative project, LTU will support MDAS as it works with Elders and other community members in the Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang Aboriginal communities on a project to co-design and implement interventions to prevent increased gambling harm in their communities. LTU will also work with MDAS to evaluate the project.

To kick off the project, MDAS will run non-commercial recreational bingo with an established group of Elders in Mildura who have indicated their interest in gambling harm prevention activities. This will help build social connectedness and community resilience through supporting an activity that provides social benefits and has strong community buy in. Other group-based activities will be developed in Swan Hill and Kerang.

MDAS will work with these groups to offer regular yarning circles where people can discuss the causes and impacts of gambling, stigma and other barriers to addressing harm and, over time, identify and help develop and implement interventions.

Details of research

Partner: Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS).

LTU Chief Investigators: Dr Sarah MacLean, Dr Mary Whiteside and Kathleen Maltzahn, in partnership with MDAS’s Tiffany Griffin, Raelene Stephens, Colleen Reid, Krystal Gadsby and Zah Thebe.

Timeframe: 2017-2019.

Funder: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Bingo! Social experiences, harms and responses to bingo playing in Victorian populations experiencing disadvantage

We will conduct a study of bingo playing. Bingo is a game of choice for gamblers from economically marginalised populations, however benefits and harms associated with playing commercial bingo are poorly understood.

How will we conduct our research?

We will use a case study approach focusing on three groups where bingo playing is popular and social and economic disadvantage common. These groups are the Aboriginal community in Eastern Victoria, partnering with Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative (GEGAC); a Tongan community in Northern Victoria, with Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC); and older people (65 and older) on fixed and low incomes in Melbourne.

The study is designed to inform policy and intervention in Victoria and the proposed method is participatory, involving in-depth interviews with players and key stakeholders, participant observation and community feedback. The investigators are a multidisciplinary team from La Trobe University’s School of Allied Health and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Details of research

Partners: the Gippsland  and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative (GEGAC), Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC), with one partner to be confirmed.

LTU Chief Investigators: Kathleen Maltzahn, Dr Helen Lee, Dr John Cox, Dr Mary Whiteside and Dr Sarah MacLean.

Timeframe: 2018-2019.

Funder: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Systematic review of interventions on gambling in Indigenous communities

Practitioners, community organisers and funders currently have little tested evidence to guide them in developing interventions to combat gambling harm in the Victorian Aboriginal community.

This systematic review will bring together and analyse existing evidence on interventions. The LTU researchers’ knowledge will be deepened by the practice expertise of practitioner Tiffany Griffin. The resulting document will inform the development of future interventions to address gambling harm in Victorian Aboriginal communities.

Details of research

Partner: Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS)

LTU Chief Investigators: Dr Sarah MacLean, Dr Mary Whiteside, He Liu and Dr Marion Heyeres, with MDAS’ Tiffany Griffin.

Timeframe: 2018.

Funder: Mallee District Aboriginal Services, with funding from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Contact us

Department of Community and Clinical Allied Health