More pokies means increased harm to women, families and communities

October 5, 2020

There exists a strong body of Australian evidence drawing a connection between problem gambling and family violence, including new research released last week by ANROWS that demonstrates that gambling intersects with intimate partner violence in a number of ways, with this violence often manifesting itself as economic abuse. 

It’s this link between problem gambling and family violence that has underpinned our support of Mitchell Shire Council’s objection to an application by Hogan’s Hotel, Wallan, to add 20 electronic gaming machines to the 45 machines already on the premises. The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) approved this application in May 2019, stating that there would be a “neutral impact” on the community, a finding Mitchell Shire Council is now appealing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). 

Women’s Health Goulburn North East is scheduled to appear as a lay witness in this appeal and we are now reaching out to our networks, partners in the prevention of violence against women and communities around the region to join us in supporting Mitchell Shire Council’s appeal 

The VCGLR’s approval of Hogan’s Hotel’s application for more gaming machines and the “neutral impact” assessment flies in the face of the evidence linking problem gambling with family violence. It will ultimately constitute a challenge to Mitchell Shire Council’s own work in the family violence prevention space. And it contradicts the Victorian Government’s position on family violence, which sees it as a public health issue that comes at significant cost to the economy and impacts entire communities. 

Indeed, this is one public health issue that hits close to home for Mitchell Shire. 

Mitchell Shire has one of the highest rates of family violence in the state, ranking eighth out of 79 shires in Victoria for family violence incidence rates for the 2017/18 period, with a rate of 22.22 incidents for 1,000 people. This is nearly double the state average of 12.4 incidents.  

Given the link between problem gambling and family violence, it’s clear that this approval for additional poker machines in Wallan can only drive this rate higher and result in additional harm to local families. 

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, Mitchell Shire’s appeal to VCAT will be heard via a live virtual hearing between October 12 and 22. Community attendance at this hearing is crucial to demonstrating strong community support for council’s objection to an increase in the number of electronic gaming machines in the shire. 

If you’d like to watch the proceedings online, you can view it live. You can use the following code to login after clicking the link: