A first-of-its-kind program launching today will help reduce gambling harm in Indigenous communities across NSW by creating a safe space online.
The Talking About Gambling (TAG) project will be community driven and has been designed by experts at NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service and The Australian National University (ANU), along with other research partners.
According to Dr Megan Whitty, gambling is often referred to as the "hidden addiction" in Indigenous communities. But, starting an open and honest discussion can help break down some of the stigma so communities can identify if gambling is a problem, and how it could be addressed.
"This project will allow participants to lead that discussion," Dr Whitty said.
"They'll be part of a closed group online, so they can talk openly about gambling in their community and how it's affecting them."
Dr Whitty says Indigenous people are at higher risk of gambling harm and are also less likely to seek help.
"Mainstream services aren't always nuanced enough to encourage Indigenous people to get help," Dr Whitty said.
"This is the first program of its kind in Australia, and it's based on empowering Indigenous people and enabling them to make informed choices. It's much less prescriptive.
"Evaluation will be key. If this program is successful, we hope it could eventually be rolled out more widely."
Ashley Gordon from the NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service says using popular social media platforms like Facebook can be a fantastic way to get people talking.
"Indigenous people face a number of barriers when it comes to accessing gambling support," Mr Gordon said.
"This program takes away some of those barriers - they can get help without even having to leave the house.
"We'll learn from the information and advice we get from our participants and it will allow us to better help Indigenous people all over the state."
The project will be launched in Taree, followed by 13 other locations across the state.
More information about how to get involved is available on the TAG Facebook page.
This project is funded through the NSW Government Office of Responsible Gambling 2019 Grant Round.