Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Gambling service boost for Maori, Pacific but Odyssey loses out

Photo / Christine Cornege
Photo / Christine Cornege

Maori and Pacific problem gambling services have won more money out of a tender which stopped all funding for the country's biggest provider, the Problem Gambling Foundation, except for its Asian services.

New details emerging from the tender process reveal that another mainstream provider, Odyssey House, has also lost all its funding.

The total problem gambling funding of $11.8 million a year has instead gone to the Salvation Army, which will integrate problem gambling with its other addiction and social services, and to dedicated Maori and Pacific services.

The last NZ Health Survey in 2012 found that Maori and Pacific people were about three times as likely as European and Asian people to have experienced problems because of someone else's gambling.

A high proportion of problem gamblers are also addicted to drugs, tobacco and alcohol, often related to poverty. The survey found that 8.3 per cent of gamblers in the poorest fifth of neighbourhoods were at moderate or high risk of being problem gamblers, 14 times higher than the 0.6 per cent at risk in the richest fifth of neighbourhoods.

Odyssey House chief executive Philip Grady said he did not know why Odyssey had lost its problem gambling funding, but the agency would have to find a way to keep problem gambling services running after its contract ends on June 30 - possibly by contracting with one of the successful providers. The agency's 2.5 gambling specialists would be absorbed into other roles.

A major winner from the tender is the Auckland Community Alcohol and Drugs Service (CADS) Tupu service for Pacific problem gamblers, whose funded staff will double from three or four at present to seven.

CADS manager Robert Steenhuisen said the Tupu team, based in Otahuhu and Henderson, previously concentrated on counselling, and contracted out public health work to the Problem Gambling Foundation.

Another winner is Raukura Hauora o Tainui, which currently runs problem gambling services for Maori and "umbrellas" a Pacific service in South Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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