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Gambling survey shows growing harm and need for more training for financial counsellors

A new survey of financial counsellors has highlighted the growing harm caused by gambling and the urgent need for additional workforce training.

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA), on behalf of the state and territory financial counselling associations, is calling on the Federal Government and the Opposition to commit to provide funding to upskill the sector.

The inaugural national survey canvassed the views of financial counsellors across Australia. The responses illustrated the rapidly growing incidence of gambling related harm.

“We are asking for $5m to develop gambling training for the sector, including the next generation of financial counselling students,” said Lauren Levin, FCA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns.

Financial counsellors are reporting that the rapid growth of gambling has resulted in increasing numbers of people affected by gambling harm, experiencing multifaceted problems. Helping these clients is more complex than working with clients not affected by gambling. It involves responding to addictive behaviour, potential suicidality, high debt levels and many other co-occurring problems.

Financial counsellors are most concerned about online gambling which has exploded because of uncontrolled, wall to wall, sports betting advertising. Other gambling activities causing increasing harm in the community include cryptocurrency and forex trading, and social casino games.

The survey received 395 responses from financial counsellors, a 44% response rate.

  • 46% said their agencies don’t receive specific funding for gambling work or funding to employ a gambling financial counsellor, but they nevertheless try to help their clients impacted by gambling.
  • 13% of respondents said they are unable to assist clients impacted by gambling.

“We don’t want a single person to be turned away when they are brave enough to reach out for help,” said Ms. Levin.

“The financial counselling sector needs a significant investment in training so practitioners, both generalists and gambling specialists, can better work with and support clients affected by gambling.

“Financial counsellors also need training to stay across all the new and evolving forms of gambling, to minimize harm. Better training will enhance financial counsellors’ capacity to help some people get funds back when gambling companies have breached their obligations,” said Ms. Levin.

Gambling support work is emotionally challenging for financial counsellors. The best way to look after the mental health of our workforce is to ensure financial counsellors are appropriately upskilled and have manageable workloads.

We will approach the Government, regardless of who wins power, with policy reforms designed to reduce the gambling harm identified in this survey.

A snapshot of the report can be found here. The entire survey will be released once all the results have been analysed.

For comment, please contact Lauren Levin 0411 050 035 or email [email protected]

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