Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich promoting the Hope Street Inner City Gambling program

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In light of the Federal Government’s move to reign in gambling advertising, Responsible Gambling Awareness Week highlighted damaging results of addiction, and that there is help out there.

Minister for Hospitality and Racing George Souris encouraged people to take advantage of available counselling.

“Responsible Gambling Awareness Week is a chance to remind the community about the damaging impacts excessive gambling can have on the lives of gamblers as well as their friends and families, and issue a call to action for problem gamblers,” he said.

“The good news is that free, effective and confidential help is available in a range of languages, so I strongly encourage problem gamblers to take that important first step on the road to recovery by contacting our Gambling Help services.”

The Hope Street Urban Compassion group, which has been offering counselling to problem gamblers since 1999, launched their recent project in Woolloomooloo during the week.

“Hope Street funds face-to-face counselling for those with gambling problems,” said Hope Street’s Manager of Inner City Gambling Counselling, Sondra Kalnin.

“A great proportion of these people are at risk of homelessness, so we go to inner city refuges to provide weekly group and individual counselling. We also provide family workshops to help people who are dealing with somebody else’s gambling problem.”

Hope Street receives financial assistance from the NSW Government’s responsible gambling fund.

“We provide effective support, we help people realise that there has to be some accountability for the gambling. There is a mistaken belief that gambling is a way of making money,” said Ms Kalnin.

“Gambling is meant to be for entertainment purposes and after a while, even the entertainment part is long gone, people lose more than they win.”

Hope Street data reveals that 60 per cent of the people they counsel have thought about suicide – a third of that figure having attempted it.

Ms Kilnan said Hope Street’s success rate is positive.

“Although follow-ups can be difficult to maintain, we do check up on people within six months, and a large majority are doing much better than when they came. We assess people for conditions such as depression and anxiety, and as we check them weekly a lot of those conditions seem to be lifting,” she said.