To the Policy and Legislation Unit, Liquor and Gaming,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed reforms. WayAhead – Mental Health Association NSW is very supportive of the overall aims of the amendments.
We see this as an opportunity to further strengthen the protections designed to assist problem gamblers overcome their addiction and to bring New South Wales into line with the more robust measures currently operating in other jurisdictions.
The link between mental health conditions and problem gambling is very real as set out in the legislations explanatory paper which stated “Client data from NSW Gambling Help services in 2019/20 shows that gaming machines are the principle gambling activity for 71% of clients seeking help for gambling issues. It also shows that, of those clients, 42% were diagnosed with depression, 32% had thoughts about committing suicide, 9% had attempted suicide” (page 2).
For this legislative framework to make a real difference to people’s lives, It is essential that the views and stories of people with a lived experience of problem gambling and self-exclusion and their families and other support people be heard, listened to and understood by the NSW Government. Further, the government should enter a co-design process with people with a lived experience and their carers to ensure any measures coming out of this process will actually work. By doing this the government will clearly demonstrate that it is doing harm minimisation activities with people and not for them.
We would like to make some further comments on areas of the proposed amendments that we believe could be made stronger. Additionally, we wish to indicate our support for the addition of a cashless gambling system, to strengthen the proposed reforms and add further measures, backed by research, to assist in reducing gambling harm.
We support the general principles suggested by the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
We of course welcome any opportunity to further discuss our submission with you, through the following WayAhead contact:
Corporate Affairs Manager
WayAhead – Mental Health Association NSW
02 9339 6000.