THE state government has rejected claims that it axed funding to two problem gambling awareness advertising campaigns.
Opposition human services spokeswoman Rebecca White says Right to Information documents show that the state government pulled funding from Gambling Support Program ads after deeming them ‘‘non-essential’’.
The opposition has released an RTI response that it obtained regarding government department responses to Treasurer Peter Gutwein’s directive to reduce all non-essential advertising.
In the response, the Department of Health and Human Services said it had not been issued a directive or Treasurer’s instruction on the matter, but had been contacted about the issue in writing by the Department of Treasury and Finance. The DHHS said print and online advertising from the gambling harm minimisation Know Your Odds program and an advertorial earmarked for Responsible Gambling Awareness Week had been withdrawn.
Ms White said scrapping the advertising campaigns was appalling, laying blame for the cuts at the feet of Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma.
‘‘The Liberal government is clearly prepared to leave people behind with a heartless cut rather than help those in need,’’ Ms White said.
‘‘Jacquie Petrusma is living on another planet if she thinks a campaign to reduce the social harm of gambling is non-essential.’’
But a spokesman for Ms Petrusma said funding had not changed for community education, research, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of compulsive gambling.
The spokesman said 50 per cent of profits raised from electronic gaming machines in the state’s pubs and clubs were directed into a levy to fund the initiatives.
He said a new strategy for the Gambling Support Program was being developed and would be finalised by mid-September.
‘‘Among the initiatives will be stage five of the Know Your Odds prevention and early intervention campaign, which will have a new focus on promoting self-help strategies, and online help and support resources,’’ the spokesman said.
‘‘A new campaign will also address the risks to young people and particularly young adult men of the recent and continuing emergence of sports betting and its promotion.’’
Latest estimates indicate that the state government is expected to have raised about $93.7 million in gambling tax revenues in the past financial year.
Every poker machine in the state chews up the equivalent of an average salary each year.
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