WCC Annual Report 2014-15 - Page 25

HEALTHY TOGETHER WHITTLESEA Whittlesea Community Connections worked with the Healthy Together Whittlesea team to support activity that increases local people’s health and wellbeing. Health Together Whittlesea, is a partnership between Plenty Valley Health and the City of Whittlesea. The work included progression of Council’s Smoking Strategy, support for how Council can support sporting clubs to be more inclusive, and other activity aimed at better coordinating local resources to support a healthier community. THOMASTOWN WEST COMMUNITY HUB The Thomastown West Community Hub was given a boost this year with the Ward Ambler Foundation funding the growth of our Learning Support Programs and Playgroups. In the last financial year, a second multicultural playgroup was established and we introduced an English as an additional language class for students of Thomastown West Primary School who require additional support and a school holiday art program. The presence of a hub co-ordinator also facilitated some early intervention supports for families from Thomastown West Primary School. The Cool Leaning Club, delivered in partnership with The Smith Family supported students of TWPS with programs related to the schools curriculum on a weekly basis and PRACE provided English conversation classes to support parents of the school. The partnership with TWPS, PRACE and The Smith Family have resulted in the delivery of meaningful programs that support families of Thomastown West Primary School in achieving the best possible educational outcomes. WHITTLESEA INTERAGENCY TASKFORCE ON GAMBLING Gambling is a significant problem in the City of Whittlesea, with $101 million lost in 201415. This equates to over $700per adult in the Whittlesea LGA - well in excess of the state wide average. Approximately $40 million of that is estimated to come from problem gamblers. While gambling is an individual choice, there are enormous costs to individuals, families and the community. The Productivity Commission has identified that for every gambler that develops an addiction, 7-10 other people are impacted by their gambling. Problem gambling has been shown to have links with mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and family violence. Community agencies in the area are experiencing the strain that these losses place on the community through additional demand for services such as emergency relief and family support. The Whittlesea Interagency Taskforce on Gambling (WITOG) was established in 2012 and WCC is proud of being one of the founding agencies of this group. Membership includes WCC , Plenty Valley Community Health, Kildonan UnitingCare, The Salvation Army Crossroads, Hume Whittlesea Primary Care Partnership, Whittlesea YMCA, Neami National and Women’s Health In the North. WITOG is committed to reducing the impact of gambling harm in Whittlesea and though its position is not an ‘anti-gambling’ one, member agencies believe poker machines are dangerous products that are programmed to win and designed to addict and that as such, stronger regulation as with tobacco and alcohol is required in order to protect the vulnerable and their families from the enormous harm that ‘pokies’ create. WITOG’s place based, community development approach has been an important reason for its success in engaging with individuals, groups and organisations. For the upcoming year WITOG will push to improve public policy to protect our community from the harms of gambling. This is by no means an easy task and it will take the collective will and commitment of not only of WITOG but also of the community as a whole. In 2014-15 our work to reduce the harm from poker machines included: Presenting to 25 community groups to a total of 516 people Recruiting 12 local volunteers to assist in the dissemination of information at meetings an on social media Fostering partnerships with key local organisations Running a joint project with Plenty Valley Community Health Men’s Behaviour Change program. Working with the City of Whittlesea, including presenting to Council staff “ We have the right to vote. We should have the right to have a say in having gambling venues in our area. I have seen lots of issues and family being affect due to gambling. There should be more services around. The Emergency Relief that is needed is mainly due to the effects of problem gambling. I am still affected by gambling. Emergency Relief Client