Wednesday 27. April, 2016

FCA Calls For Budget for Problem Gambling Support

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) has released a report into the impact of problem gambling, by analysing case studies and personal reports. The FCA has called on the Australian Federal Government to set aside budget to help fund counsellors to treat people with gambling addiction.

The report, Problem Gambling Financial Counselling: Survey and Case Studies, looks at 68 case studies and considers the impact of 27 counsellors from 32 community agencies across the country. The study found that the majority of people with gambling addiction were unable to pay their bills, resulting in significant impacts on the families.

According to the report, problem gambling was primarily the result of poker machine addiction which affects people across all ages and genders. However, online sports betting is becoming more widespread and mostly impacts young men. Around 30 percent of gambling addicts are engaged in multiple types of gambling.

The Federal Government has provided funding for more than 50 problem gambling financial counsellors since 2012 and these have been stationed in areas of high concentrations of poker machines. The financial counsellors help people get back on track and improve their financial situation. Financial counselling has been shown to help people financially, as well as for their mental and physical health.

According to the chief executive of FCA, Fiona Guthrie, community agencies that hire financial counsellors currently receive $6.6 million in funding, which is a “relatively modest amount.”

“Obviously, we think there is a lot of need and you could double that [amount] and put much more people into the sector,” she stated.

Guthrie also suggested that the current date of May for discussing the budget, creates significant anxiety for the FCA who are funded until the end of June and don’t have time find additional funding if the budget changes negatively for them.

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