The NSW Government's Responsible Gambling Fund is implementing a new problem gambling awareness campaign focusing on students in the tertiary education sector.
The tertiary campaign is a component of a $60,000 Gambling and Young People Strategy to engage young people in the years before and after leaving school to build educated awareness about problem gambling and support services that are available for young people and their family members and friends.
Awareness and promotional materials including information brochures, posters and digital resources will be displayed, published and made available across university, TAFE and private college counselling and student service departments and public spaces; social media accounts and websites; and promoted on Gambling Help and Responsible Gambling Fund supported services' social media accounts and websites.
Campaign materials have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders at NSW-based universities, TAFE institutes and private colleges.
"This tertiary campaign aims to raise awareness among both students and staff that problem gambling can be an issue for young people, including those in university and TAFE environments," Responsible Gambling Fund Chairman of Trustees Christopher Naughton said.
"About 3% to 4% of young people have problems with gambling and these days any student with a smartphone can access online gambling products 24/7. Young people are being increasingly exposed to the promotion of gambling products, particularly through sport and digital media.
"Signs of a student experiencing gambling problems can include anxiety and depression, alienation from friends and family, financial stress including difficulties paying study fees and other expenses or seeking out loan facilities, difficulties maintaining stable housing arrangements, and talk of abandoning study.
"Awareness campaign messages will encourage students to support friends who are being impacted by problem gambling and will promote free and confidential Gambling Help counselling services that are available in a range of languages.
"The campaign also aims to educate influencers by targeting teaching and support staff. Materials will raise awareness about young people and gambling and alert staff to the signs that may indicate a student is experiencing a gambling problem. The aim is to encourage influencers to help refer affected students to counselling services either on-campus or through Gambling Help."
"This is a really positive thing," says Liam, a 24-year-old former problem gambler who dropped out of three university courses due to his gambling problem.
"When I was at uni, I never thought to talk to someone about my gambling. Just knowing that there's someone who can understand and offer help might make all the difference. "I was able to hide my gambling problem for a long time because no-one knew the signs to look for. So if this campaign helps staff identify students who are getting in too deep with gambling, that's a good thing.
"If young people can address gambling problems and sort them out early, they're far more likely to stick with their studies and get moving with their careers."
Any student experiencing a problem with gambling can seek free, effective and confidential help via the Gambling Help website www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au or by calling the Gambling Help hotline on 1800 858 858.