The theme for this year’s GHAW was ‘Whānau Fun - we can beat gambling harm together.’
The week kicked off in Christchurch with a Gamblefree Community Day where, in collaboration with the Salvation Army Oasis, we created an event for families. With face-painting, games and interactive workshops on gambling harm, as well as a great turnout from the community, it was a fun and successful day.
In Auckland our main activity was a collaborative project with Auckland City Mission (ACM). Our focus was on the users of ACM’s services, many of whom struggle or have struggled with gambling addiction. Over the course of several weeks our Auckland team built a relationship with the team at ACM, which culminated in a co-hosted ‘boil up’ for ACM users at the Hobson Street office plus a special screening of the documentary Ka Ching! Pokie Nation and an educational quiz on gambling. You can check out some of the pictures and video from the event here.
In addition to this our Auckland team also set up static displays at libraries around Auckland; Papatoetoe, Otara, Papakura, Takapuna and Devonport. Our staff were on site at some of the libraries throughout the week offering brief interventions and presentations on gambling harm.
In Wellington our team collaborated with Nga Taonga – Sound & Vision, to host two screenings of ‘It’s not a Game’ – a New Zealand made documentary which looks into the lives of New Zealanders affected by harmful gambling.
It was a great week where our team across the country, along with our friends from other organisations, engaged with thousands of people across a wide range of demographics about the harm associated with gambling, hoping to break down some of the stigma, encourage help-seeking behaviour and start some conversations.
History of Gambling Harm Awareness Week
The major awareness raising week for harmful gambling takes place at the beginning of September every year. But it hasn’t always been a week. It started as Gamblefree Day and the very first one was held on 1 September 2005. It came about when delegates at the CommUnity Action on Gambling Conference 2004 held in Hamilton decided that a national ‘Gamblefree Day’ would raise awareness about problem gambling in New Zealand. The proposal, suggested by Paul Lavulo, of the National Pacific Gambling Project was endorsed by the delegates at the conference and Gamblefree Day became an annual event on 1 September the following year.
Community groups throughout New Zealand were encouraged to take direct action on the day with the aim of developing a co-ordinated national campaign so that the public were made aware of the harm pokies cause in our communities.
Last year Gamblefree Day became Gambling Harm Awareness Week (GHAW) to provide more time for awareness raising events and activities to take place around the country.