“Look out for your staff” is one of the messages for this year’s Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, May 26-31.
According to Hunter-based Gambling Counsellor, Graeme Penney, who works with the Samaritans Foundation, a person suffering with excessive gambling can often be experiencing emotional hardship and not only does this affect their emotional health but also their behaviour at work.
“While our main work is to help people who gamble, we want employers to understand they can be part of the solution and prevent incidents occurring,” Graeme said.
“Helping a colleague or employee can make a real difference. It is a good feeling knowing you have helped someone turn their life around.”
“Most workplaces have policies in place to protect the work environment, the organisation and staff. Policies on alcohol, smoking and drugs are common. Harm from problem gambling is not as often on an organisation’s agenda.
“The most recognised harm reaches the headlines and we read about massive amounts of money being defrauded from businesses. The impact from incidents like this are obvious yet less obvious harms to the individual are relationship breakdown, depression, anxiety, financial stress, loss of assets or suicidal thoughts,” he continued.
Sandra Phillips from Lake Macquarie Gambling and Financial Counselling Service said being safe at work also meant being safe at home.
“We want to help reduce these personal impacts that can flow into the workplace in way of lost productivity, inattention, absenteeism and distraction. We want people to be safe at work as well as at home,” she said.
Graeme and Sandra are among more than 50 gamblingHELP services throughout NSW. They are funded by the NSW Government through the Responsible Gambling Fund. As well as face to face counselling the gamblingHELP services also provide telephone and online counselling and web-based self-help.
“While most people who gamble do so responsibly around two per cent of the population lose control. A social gambler does so for fun and limits their time and money. They know the odds are in favour of the house. Problem gamblers expect to win or may gamble to escape problems in their life,” Grame said.
The Hunter’s GamblingHELP counsellors want workplaces to know they are available to help the workplace provide awareness and assistance when needed. Your nearest GamblingHELP counsellor can be reached on 1800 858 858.