A dicey game: Tackling problem gambling through theatre

THE lines between fiction and reality blur in the upcoming theatre production Life’s a Gamble, which explores problem gambling among the other ups and downs of international student life. Nkandu Mwenge reports.

Image: sampyso via Flickr

Image: sampyso via Flickr

An upcoming theatre piece, Life’s a Gamble directed by Catherine Simmonds will address problem gambling, among the other ups and downs of international student life.

The piece is a result of weekly workshops run by Simmonds and is based on the personal experiences of the students involved. The production will be staged at RMIT Kaleide Theatre, 360 Swanston St, on July 17 from 10am to 2pm.

A recent study conducted by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, Bond University and Deakin University shows a higher rate of gambling addiction among international students compared to both general population and youth gambling prevalence.

The study, released by Gambling Research Australia, shows 6.7 per cent of international students have gambling addictions, about six times the average of Australia’s general population.

Chinese people do not like to go and see counsellors….If they do, they are seen as being crazy. Counselling still equals mental illness for many Chinese. – Wesa Chau, Responsible Gambling Awareness Week Ambassador

One of the researchers, Swinburne University’s Professor Susan Moore, said many gambling venues have social atmospheres which are pleasant and non-threatening to international students. Students who suffer from loneliness, depression and stress are placed at greater risk, as gambling offers them a way of ‘switching off’.

Related story: International student bans himself from casino to curb gambling addiction

Professor  Sudhir Kalé, another one of the researchers, told Meld Magazine not enough was being done by tertiary institutions to warn international students about the perils of problem gambling.

“For students who do develop a gambling problem, less than 10 per cent will seek professional help. A lot of young problem gamblers feel that they can handle the problem on their own or that seeking help is a cause for embarrassment or an acknowledgement of failure,” Prof Kalé said.

He said international students are further disadvantaged because of their ignorance about who to approach for gambling-related help in Australia.

“Clearly, gambling has nowhere the level of sensitisation as alcohol or recreational drugs,” he said.

The performance will be launched by Wesa Chau, a former Young Victorian of the Year and Responsible Gambling Awareness Week Ambassador.

Ms Chau notes that students from China are reluctant to seek formal help.

“Chinese people do not like to go and see counsellors….If they do, they are seen as being crazy. Counselling still equals mental illness for many Chinese,” she said.

Ms Chau will be joined by Danny Ong, Monash University multicultural employment and career development consultant for a post-performance panel discussion.

Life’s a Gamble is funded by The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in partnership with the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health’s Multicultural Gambler’s Help Program and Gamblers Help Northern, City and Eastern.

The event is free, and tickets are available online through Eventbrite

There are 2 comments

  1. Former Crown Patron

    As a former Crown patron and an international student, I do find this article to be very true. International students are definitely the most vulnerable group in this sense. I feel sorry for the parents’ hard-earned monies. However, the students can’t be blamed entirely. It is all parts and parcels of growing up.

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