Gambling is part of social life in Greek culture where men plahy tavli, women enjoy card games and even children join in from an early age with lucky games as part of a New Year’s tradition.

What seems like harmless fun can turn to real addiction, and it is the real problems which gambling can cause that are focused upon in Victoria, during Gambling Harm Awareness week, which runs from 18-24 October.

PRONIA, the Greek welfare group, has often worked to combat problem gambling and its devastating effects, especially in multicultural communities. PRONIA has been addressing this issue for many years, by providing information sessions, referrals and support for those impacted by gambling addiction.

This year’s Gambling Harm Awareness week theme is TALK.SHARE.SUPPORT. As such, people are encouraged to talk about the harms associated with gambling and the effects on communities, families, friends, workplaces and individuals. Gambling harm affects the self esteem of individuals, while also taking a toll on their relationships, physical and mental health. It can lead to problems in a person’s work performance and social life. The stigma associated with gambling can lead to feelings of shame and failure leading to a delay in acknowledging problems and seeking help.

READ MORE: Gambling Harm Awareness Week casts focus on an “invisible illness” normalised by Greek culture

In an effort to raise public awareness and provide in-language information about the impact of gambling through personal stories, PRONIA would like to encourage people to talk about the harms associated with gambling and share their experiences.

PRONIA is undertaking a short video project with people with lived experience of gambling who are willing to share their stories so that others can learn from their experience. The participation is done anonymously for the production of an awareness video to be used in community information sessions including social media. It is hoped that personal stories will spark hope, encouragement, strength and comfort for others who are experiencing similar harms through gambling.

A lot has been said about migrant communities and why they are particularly susceptible to gambling, as a way of managing the stressors of loss of family and supports, language barrier, isolation etc. The stigma and shame associated with problem gambling means that individuals are reluctant /unable to identify gambling behaviours as problematic, to seek support, to know about support services or to be able to navigate the predominantly English speaking supports available.

READ MORE: Problem gambling a significant issue that needs to be dealt with

Through PRONIA’s case work program, community members who have been impacted by gambling (including online gambling), can find solutions and supports through referral services to counselling, peer-support groups, case work and other services such as Gamblers help.

PRONIA’s radio program on Wednesday, 20 October, at 3pm on 3XY (1422AM) is dedicated to raising awareness about the risks of gambling. Guest speaker will be Chairman of the Board of Victorian Responsible Gambling Association, Tass Mousaferiadis, who will be discussing with Antonios Maglis, shedding the light on gambling issues, encouraging and empowering those who are experiencing gambling harm to come forward and seek help.

If you would like to get involved in PRONIA’s gambling video or would like support or information about gambling harm please call (03) 9388 9998.