Lifeline lost

New problem-gambling service a priority: Ministry.

New problem-gambling service a priority: Ministry.

Gamblers in Gisborne wanting help have lost a lifeline.

The Te Ara Tika Trust has terminated its problem-gambling contract with the Ministry of Health and the trust has been wound up, says trust chairwoman Lois McCarthy-Robinson.

She said the service was not sustainable and did not want to comment any further.

Former employee Lizz Crawford, who has been with the trust for eight years and manager for the past five years, says it is a huge loss.

She was told in August and the service was terminated in September.

Ministry of Health mental health and addiction manager Richard Taylor said a face-to-face service in Tairawhiti was a priority for everyone involved and that was why the ministry had been working since Te Ara Tika’s contract ended to ensure that people experiencing gambling harm in Tairawhiti were still able to access help and support.

“Reducing harm from gambling is important to the Ministry of Health and speaks to the heart of one of the Government’s core priorities — achieving equity,” he said.

“Free face-to-face help and support is an important part of reducing gambling harm, and is complemented by the nationwide Gambling Helpline.”

The MoH was hopeful an alternative provider would be in place around Easter, with details of any new contract still under discussion.

Mr Taylor said the Gambling Helpline, 0800 654 655, was available 24/7 to anyone in the Tairawhiti district needing support in the meantime.

Ms Crawford said whanau had been abandoned in exchange for a dial-up addiction service where people hang up. This was well known by the Ministry of Health.

“What a joke. The contract was underfunded and no other provider would pick it up as it has been terminated twice since 2004.”

“That’s approximately $350,000 of levy funds over seven years. Apparently a local provider has already turned it down, with an increase offered because the work expected is greater than the value of the contract,” said Ms Crawford.

“It’s unacceptable to allow pokies to operate and have no appropriate intervention.”

Goal is to have a pokie-free Tairawhiti within three years

This levy fund information might pique the interest of gambling trusts and societies which might call for a review to prove the levy was used for “intended” purpose, said Ms Crawford.

“Trusts and societies have an unintended benefit when services are not contracted — there is no one gathering data that is used for the levy, so trusts and societies get a levy break. The winners are researchers and opportunists.

“Whanau are not receiving the same services they are entitled to — no choice, only chance,” she said.

Te Ara Tika was the only gambling service provider in New Zealand to close down a class 4 venue, in collaboration with community provider Ka Pai Kaiti. The work continued.

“We got rid of the cause of the harm rather than trying to put a Band-aid on the cause by treating once harm had occurred.”

Ms Crawford is chairwoman of Ka Pai Kaiti.

“Our goal is that in the next three years we will have a pokie-free Tairawhiti.

“We will be starting a support group for whanau experiencing gambling harm.

“We already run meth support groups.

“We’re plugging the gaps of a system that does not have service provision for rehab or gambling.”

Pokies were originally given consent from Gisborne District Council to be located in Tairawhiti.

The council’s recent gambling policy feedback found different agencies were working on attempting to support whanau here with no resources: “An example of our community burden, having to fund its own way out of harm and vulnerability,” said Ms Crawford.

Venue exclusion was a tool for whanau — when a person took the first step to get themselves excluded from gaming venues around town.

Now whanau would have to do this themselves — a big ask of both whanau and venues, when other regions had multiple venue exclusion services.

“We will be looking for non-gambling funding to carry on the work of single exclusions as a point of ethics.

“I like that the gambling-harm dollar does not fund services here, and trusts and societies that no longer have pokies here are turning away applications for funding for this reason.”

Ms Crawford challenges providers to offer gambling-harm services without using the enticing and addictive gambling-harm dollar.

“Martin Luther King (Jr) starved the system that relied on those harmed, systems that are prejudiced. Sir Apirana Ngata took opposition to alcohol.”

It did not help that whanau were further disadvantaged by the alcohol licensing process that allowed related entities to rename a venue after failing a controlled purchase operation directly before a licence renewal, she said.

When a hotel alcohol licence was renewed and the premises were clearly not a hotel, because they did not offer accommodation, it more than likely survived off the 16 percent per annum payment from their pokie trusts, she said.

Now applicants were able to object to objectors, not even the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 legislated this privilege, for obvious reasons. A manager stole $35,000 from the old Aladdins and it was awarded an alcohol licence because an associated company took over, renamed it and applied for a new licence.

“This is a voting year — vote well whanau,” said Ms Crawford.

“Vote for those that have made a real difference, and continue to support our communities, their voters.”

Gamblers in Gisborne wanting help have lost a lifeline.

The Te Ara Tika Trust has terminated its problem-gambling contract with the Ministry of Health and the trust has been wound up, says trust chairwoman Lois McCarthy-Robinson.

She said the service was not sustainable and did not want to comment any further.

Former employee Lizz Crawford, who has been with the trust for eight years and manager for the past five years, says it is a huge loss.

She was told in August and the service was terminated in September.

Ministry of Health mental health and addiction manager Richard Taylor said a face-to-face service in Tairawhiti was a priority for everyone involved and that was why the ministry had been working since Te Ara Tika’s contract ended to ensure that people experiencing gambling harm in Tairawhiti were still able to access help and support.

“Reducing harm from gambling is important to the Ministry of Health and speaks to the heart of one of the Government’s core priorities — achieving equity,” he said.

“Free face-to-face help and support is an important part of reducing gambling harm, and is complemented by the nationwide Gambling Helpline.”

The MoH was hopeful an alternative provider would be in place around Easter, with details of any new contract still under discussion.

Mr Taylor said the Gambling Helpline, 0800 654 655, was available 24/7 to anyone in the Tairawhiti district needing support in the meantime.

Ms Crawford said whanau had been abandoned in exchange for a dial-up addiction service where people hang up. This was well known by the Ministry of Health.

“What a joke. The contract was underfunded and no other provider would pick it up as it has been terminated twice since 2004.”

“That’s approximately $350,000 of levy funds over seven years. Apparently a local provider has already turned it down, with an increase offered because the work expected is greater than the value of the contract,” said Ms Crawford.

“It’s unacceptable to allow pokies to operate and have no appropriate intervention.”

Goal is to have a pokie-free Tairawhiti within three years

This levy fund information might pique the interest of gambling trusts and societies which might call for a review to prove the levy was used for “intended” purpose, said Ms Crawford.

“Trusts and societies have an unintended benefit when services are not contracted — there is no one gathering data that is used for the levy, so trusts and societies get a levy break. The winners are researchers and opportunists.

“Whanau are not receiving the same services they are entitled to — no choice, only chance,” she said.

Te Ara Tika was the only gambling service provider in New Zealand to close down a class 4 venue, in collaboration with community provider Ka Pai Kaiti. The work continued.

“We got rid of the cause of the harm rather than trying to put a Band-aid on the cause by treating once harm had occurred.”

Ms Crawford is chairwoman of Ka Pai Kaiti.

“Our goal is that in the next three years we will have a pokie-free Tairawhiti.

“We will be starting a support group for whanau experiencing gambling harm.

“We already run meth support groups.

“We’re plugging the gaps of a system that does not have service provision for rehab or gambling.”

Pokies were originally given consent from Gisborne District Council to be located in Tairawhiti.

The council’s recent gambling policy feedback found different agencies were working on attempting to support whanau here with no resources: “An example of our community burden, having to fund its own way out of harm and vulnerability,” said Ms Crawford.

Venue exclusion was a tool for whanau — when a person took the first step to get themselves excluded from gaming venues around town.

Now whanau would have to do this themselves — a big ask of both whanau and venues, when other regions had multiple venue exclusion services.

“We will be looking for non-gambling funding to carry on the work of single exclusions as a point of ethics.

“I like that the gambling-harm dollar does not fund services here, and trusts and societies that no longer have pokies here are turning away applications for funding for this reason.”

Ms Crawford challenges providers to offer gambling-harm services without using the enticing and addictive gambling-harm dollar.

“Martin Luther King (Jr) starved the system that relied on those harmed, systems that are prejudiced. Sir Apirana Ngata took opposition to alcohol.”

It did not help that whanau were further disadvantaged by the alcohol licensing process that allowed related entities to rename a venue after failing a controlled purchase operation directly before a licence renewal, she said.

When a hotel alcohol licence was renewed and the premises were clearly not a hotel, because they did not offer accommodation, it more than likely survived off the 16 percent per annum payment from their pokie trusts, she said.

Now applicants were able to object to objectors, not even the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 legislated this privilege, for obvious reasons. A manager stole $35,000 from the old Aladdins and it was awarded an alcohol licence because an associated company took over, renamed it and applied for a new licence.

“This is a voting year — vote well whanau,” said Ms Crawford.

“Vote for those that have made a real difference, and continue to support our communities, their voters.”

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Lizz Crawford - 3 months ago
The Ministry of Health has not been able to achieve equity for quite some time. Leaving our whanau to cope by themselves is increasing inequity and inequality, Mr Taylor. The comment lacks credibility because actions are going in the opposite direction! This is what happens when decision-makers think they have done the right thing then oops, no they haven't - then they don't know how to patch up the mess they have created.

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