CatholicCare Sydney has urged parliamentarians nationwide to continue to focus on addressing problem gambling following the introduction of new legislation in Federal Parliament this week.
A package of bills has been tabled in the House of Representatives which will include the introduction of voluntary pre-commitment on poker machines by 2016 and a trial of mandatory pre-commitment in the ACT next year.
CatholicCare CEO Mr Bernard Boerma said, “While this legislation falls considerably short of the measures needed to stem the tide of problem gambling, we do see it as a start. It is vital that governments keep moving forward on this critical issue.”
“We will continue to work through Catholic Social Services Australia and the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce to build on this legislation and drive for significant reforms,” he said.
The Productivity Commission found that problem gamblers account for around 40 per cent of total poker machine spending and that weekly players spend on average around $8000 a year, a sizeable share of household incomes and a primary source of harm.
“The churches’ welfare arms see first-hand the incredible damage that problem gambling causes to individuals and families and we will not give up on efforts aimed at reducing this harm,” Mr Boerma said.
“We want to see mandatory pre-commitment and $1 maximum bets introduced to help existing problem gamblers and prevent significant numbers of individuals from developing a problem”, Mr Boerma said.
CatholicCare Sydney offers problem gamblers support through its GameCare program, based in Bankstown and Haymarket.
CatholicCare is the official welfare agency of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Sydney. The agency has a 71-year history of innovation in social welfare programs, delivering locally-based, intervention and prevention programs to help those who are the most disadvantaged, devalued and distressed people in the community.
Each year, CatholicCare Sydney helps more than 100,000 families, teenagers and children from all backgrounds and all walks of life through financial counselling; treatment for drug, alcohol or gambling addictions; family and relationship counselling; services for children and young people at risk of physical or emotional harm; employment services; training for people living with a disability; foster care and adoptions; St Patrick’s Institute of Education; supported accommodation; respite services; support services for the aged and people living with a disability.