Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria forum in Shepparton discusses problem gambling challenge for new migrants.JOHN LEWIS August 2, 2014 3:57am
Sudanese community leader Haroun Kafi (front) with members of a gambling forum at Shepparton's Ethnic Council offices on Welsford St.
Tackling problem gambling in migrant communities was the focus of a public forum in Shepparton this week.
The Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria forum saw more than a dozen people from a variety of community groups and cultural backgrounds meet at Shepparton’s Ethnic Council offices on Welsford St.
The forum followed a Monash University report released in May that found Chinese migrant gamblers were five times more likely to fall victim to problem gambling than the general gambling population.
Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District manager Chris Hazelman said while gambling was not presently a major issue among new migrant communities in Shepparton, the forum was ‘‘an eye-opener’’ on its potential problems.
‘‘We don’t see it now, but we would expect over time with generational change it would become an issue in these communities. It’s such a pervasive thing in Australian culture,’’ Mr Hazelman said.
Sudanese community spokesman Haroun Kafi spoke of refugees in ‘‘cultural shock’’ when they arrive in Australia.
‘‘They have been dreaming for many years about Australia being the best. Then when you come here, you realise there is something going on — and you begin to get a real picture,’’ he said.
He said gambling was not a seen as a big problem in the Sudanese community because it was culturally prohibited.
‘‘If somebody does it, they will try to do it in secret. You can’t see it until you realise something is wrong financially,’’ Mr Kafi said.
He knew of at least one member of the Sudanese community who had experienced financial problems because of gambling.
‘‘The best thing we can do is inform the community and let them know the problems, but we need to get the information at the right time — as soon as we get to the country,’’ he said.
Shepparton-based Responsible Gambling Foundation counsellor Heather Turnbull said gambling problems surfaced across the whole community.
‘‘We don’t have a high number of ethnic background clients coming through our doors. But in a lot of communities it is hidden,’’ she said.
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