Aboriginal problem gambling counsellor cadetships

 Left to right: Vita Christie, Project Manager at the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health; Tyarna Larkin; Sarah Wellings; Paige H Left to right: Vita Christie, Project Manager at the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health; Tyarna Larkin; Sarah Wellings; Paige Hoskin; Arabella Douglas, Responsible Gambling Fund trustee; Roupen Manjikian, Project Officer, Liquor & Gaming NSW.

Three university students have been awarded cadetships through the NSW Government's Responsible Gambling Fund to be trained as problem gambling counsellors to work with Aboriginal communities.

University of NSW students Paige Hoskin, Sarah Wellings and Tyarna Larkin are the recipients of cadetships offered to Aboriginal undergraduates studying in fields such as psychology, social work, social welfare or health sciences.

The Responsible Gambling Fund is funding the cadetships as well as up to 60 scholarships and six traineeships over three years to 2017 to train Indigenous health and welfare workers under its Aboriginal Problem Gambling Training Program.

The Responsible Gambling Fund is working with the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney and TAFE NSW – South Western Sydney Institute to deliver the Aboriginal Problem Gambling Training Program.

Cadetship recipients Paige, Sarah and Tyarna will be supported and trained to obtain a Problem Gambling Skills Set and will be supported to undertake an optional 12 week work placement at a Responsible Gambling Fund-supported Gambling Help counselling service.

Gambling is a significant issue for Aboriginal people with problem gambling higher in Indigenous communities than the general population. A major barrier to help seeking is that Aboriginal people are often not comfortable dealing with non-Aboriginal counsellors due to cultural reasons.

The NSW Government is working to increase the number of Aboriginal problem gambling counsellors to help address this issue and target problem gambling to reduce its impact in Indigenous communities.

Ms Hoskin, 20, from Matraville, who is currently pursuing a double degree in Social Work and Criminology, said: "I have witnessed people close to me be affected by problem gambling and the many consequences that also impact loved ones surrounding them.

I believe educating myself is the first step towards making a change and being able to provide help and education for others."

Ms Wellings, 20, from Eastwood, who is in her third year of studies in Social Work and Criminology and Criminal Justice, said: "I am passionate about closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in all aspects of life, but especially common and widespread problems, such as gambling. My passion first arose through seeing how gambling and other addictions have impacted my family members and communities. I one-day hope to be working in policy to address these widespread issues Indigenous Australians face daily."

Ms Larkin, 20, who moved from Tweed Heads to study at UNSW and is currently in her third year of a degree in Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts, said: "I have always had an interest in being able to give back to my community. I would love to help others, just how others have helped me to be in the position that I am in today. I want to be the first person in my family to achieve university success and be a role model within my Indigenous community. As a recipient of this scholarship, I will be able to excel to my full potential.

The Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Kylie Gwynne, said: "Sarah, Paige, and Tyarna were chosen for cadetships as they were outstanding candidates who demonstrate academic success. The panel was in unanimous agreement that they were the ideal candidates. Sarah, Paige, and Tyarna show a deep commitment to their community and we are proud to support them."

All three recipients will continue their university studies during the cadetship.