Nationals Member for Ovens Valley and board member of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Tim McCurdy spoke in Parliament alongside the Member for Morwell on the issue of gambling harm during the MPI Matter of Public Importance.
In Parliament, Mr McCurdy said, “The Victorian Responsible Gaming Foundation (VRGF) has been a significant support body for problem gamblers since it was set up in 2012. It brings together all sorts of models and education and does an exceptional job.
“The VRGF are not anti-gambling, nor am I anti-gambling, but we do believe in safety nets and programs and support education to try and assist those who cannot push themselves away from the TAB, the roulette wheel, the blackjack table, the pokies, or any other form for that matter.”
He continued, “The one link I wish to draw today is that between poor mental health and gambling across Victoria.
“About 39 per cent of Victorians with gambling problems have a diagnosed mental illness, and gambling accounts for 22 per cent of Victoria’s mental health costs, half of which is attributed to problem gamblers.
“These are not my statistics; they are part of the submission by the VRGF to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.”
Mr McCurdy said, “These days, gambling has become so accessible. Once upon a time you had to rock into the TAB and fill out a ticket before you could bet on a horse. Nowadays you can bet at anytime and anywhere.
“Now, we cannot blame the fact that it is accessible, but we need to acknowledge that that is part of the problem – and that is where the problems are stemming from, the accessibility.
“The solution lies somewhere between education, support and better understanding.”
Mr McCurdy concluded, “We know that this is a federal area in terms of advertising, and it is clear that our ad exposure to gambling needs to include ads surrounding gambling harm as well.”
Mr McCurdy wishes to thank the fellow board members he works alongside at the VRGF and particularly the CEO Shane Lucas for the hard work they do.