At Odds Young People and Gambling Stage 2 – Final Report

Awareness and social marketing campaigns aimed at addressing young people and the effects of gambling harm have been uncommon in the ACT. The social marketing campaign At Odds: Young People and Gambling was the first of its kind in the ACT. The project was designed to specifically target young adults aged 18 – 30 through a public health approach, to raise awareness of the indicators of harmful/risky behaviour in relation to gambling, and to help inform and support peers and family members.

The pilot phase of this project ran from October 2015 – March 2017 and was coordinated by the Youth Coalition of the ACT in collaboration with ClubsACT. The project initially entailed a research component, the results of which later guided the development of trial awareness raising materials. The project team engaged with young people, as well as community and industry sector and academic representatives, during the research and trial campaign processes.

Through implementing an evidence based communications strategy we aimed to build upon, and further develop, the communications of the pilot phase of the At Odds gambling awareness campaign. The initial research clearly demonstrated the lack of discussion amongst the Canberra community on the topic of young people and gambling. The widespread confusion and silence surrounding young people and gambling results in the creation of stigma. Young gamblers currently feel significant shame and embarrassment, perceiving that they are too young to have a ‘gambling problem’. Therefore, young people underestimate the extent of gambling harms. To address stigma, we found there was a need to start challenging and transforming perceptions. This involved informing the broader community and raising awareness of gambling harms, with the intention of reducing stigma. The strategic direction of this campaign was to start a conversation, centered in a community based public health approach, rather than simply placing blame on individual gamblers. Reducing stigma, challenging perceptions and informing the Canberra community of gambling harms and harm reduction strategies also allowed the campaign to have an early intervention and a preventative approach.

In conclusion, the campaign worked to reduce public stigma amongst the Canberra community, as well as felt stigma amongst young gamblers. We worked to create a positive conversation and new set of narratives amongst young people in Canberra surrounding the issue of gambling. By encouraging help-seeking behaviours, breaking down perceived barriers to assistance, encouraging support strategies amongst friends and family as well as providing factual information on gambling, this campaign has made a positive contribution towards addressing the issue of young people and gambling related harms.

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