Throughout the year, Gambler’s Help Southern has continued to work with a community legal service to raise awareness within the justice system about gambling harm, and have gambling recognised as a legitimate mental health issue by the courts.
By comparison, where drug and alcohol addiction might be considered mitigating factors by magistrates during sentencing, gambling was considered to be only an aggravating factor, a matter of greed or a lifestyle choice.
To address the issue, we have conducted professional development training for lawyers and magistrates in the Melbourne and southern metro regions, providing them with information to support clients who show signs of gambling harm.
As a result of our work we have seen an increase in awareness and referrals to Gambler’s Help services, with two clients admitted to the Assessment and Referral Court (ARC) – a specialist court for those experiencing mental illness or cognitive impairment. The court has a therapeutic focus, helping clients to access additional support.
We look forward to these resources being more widely adopted throughout the roll out of the program.
Where drug and alcohol addiction can be a mitigating factor in sentencing, gambling is the opposite.
Two community murals were developed to brighten social spaces when we worked with Castlefield Community Centre, Bayside City Council, DHHS and Victoria Police to improve the quality of life for residents on the Hampton East Public Housing Estate.