Praise for health check including critical gambling question

[by Ashley Gordon]


Ashley Gordon. Image: supplied

I have worked in the Counselling and Aboriginal Gambling Research area for close to 20 years, and I would like to congratulate NACCHOs for adding the gambling question into their health checks. Finally we will have our Health Workers and Practitioners asking our people, Have you or someone close to you ever had issues with gambling?

There is enough evidence from Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre on the Central Coast which proves that by asking the question, we will support more Aboriginal people with gambling related problems. Research suggests that close to 18% of Aboriginal people in NSW are experiencing significant problems associated with their or someone else’s gambling. Currently there is approximately 450 Aboriginal people receiving Gambling and/or Financial Counselling in NSW.

In 2016 Wesley Counselling Services Central Coast and Yerin Aboriginal Health Services (Incorporating the Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre) joined in partnership, to improve access to services and increase the types of services available to Aboriginal people.

Wesley’s Gambling Counsellor relocates to Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre several days each month. The financial and gambling services provided are free, independent and confidential.

They have included the following three questions in the health checks

  • Do you want Wesley Finance Counselling? 

  • Would you like to help with gambling issues?

  • Do you/family/friend have a gambling issue?


Since 2016 Yerin Aboriginal Health Services has referred more than 200 Aboriginal people experiencing gambling related harm to Wesley to receive gambling and/or financial counselling.

“We see it as a ricks factor or root cause issue (financial management) impacting on family wellbeing. It is important to have these conversations and prompts to provide solutions so there is less shame about seeking help.” Paul Hussein from Yerin said.

This well established partnership between an Aboriginal service (Yerin) and a Non-Aboriginal Service (Wesley Mission) are proving to have successful trends in gaining clients but also raising awareness around safe gambling within the central coast community.

Paul Hussein of Yerin said “Having these question integrated into a clinical process and health assessment – provides a prompt for GP’s to refer to visiting gambling counsellor. By collaborating together this really reinforced the importance of the partnership with Wesley Mission by having a gambling and financial counsellor be present at Yerin Centre to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal clients”

Gambling is not a topic we talk about enough, even though it has proven to cause so many problems in our families and communities’ .We need to continue to provide a space that promotes screens for problem gambling, but we promote safe gambling habits and provide resources for our health workers and communities. Even though this initiative is ground breaking, my concern is our Aboriginal Health and Medical services need to be prepared for an increase in gambling help for our people. What do we do when they answer Yes in their Health Checks?


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