Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Developing Services in Te Rohe O Ngai Tahu for Maori with Gambling Related Problems

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Developing Services in Te Rohe O Ngai Tahu for Maori with Gambling Related Problems

Article excerpt

Although Maori, like other indigenous populations, have been identified as being disproportionately at risk of gambling related problems, there has been limited progress with strategies to address issues in this area. The purpose of the current study (1) was to contribute to the advancement of problem gambling services (2) for Maori living in te rohe o Ngai Tahu by identifying the capacity and willingness of existing services to engage with such development. Following a review of the relevant literature, information was gathered through a phone survey of local Maori health providers and several non-Maori gambling services. The survey identified a number of salient issues, many not surprisingly relating to recruitment and retention of appropriately skilled staff. A need for increased training of both Maori and non-Maori gambling treatment workers was highlighted, however the presence of some current capacity and a broad willingness to contribute to development of Maori responsive interventions was clearly indicated. The results of the survey along with information from the literature provided the basis for constructing a framework to guide problem gambling service development in te rohe o Ngai Tahu. While the current study was focused on this specific region, it is likely that many of the issues identified would be pertinent to developments in other tribal areas.


Within New Zealand, the last 10-15 years has been characterised by a growth in gambling opportunities and a related increase in the number of people presenting for help with related difficulties (Abbott & Volberg, 2000; Paton-Simpson, Gruys, & Hannifin, 2002). This has paralleled the emergence of gambling related harm internationally as a significant social and health issue (Amie, 1999; Shaffer, Hall & Vander Bilt, 1999: Shaffer & Korn, 2002). In this context, indigenous peoples have been indicated as being at disproportionate risk of gambling related harms (Abbott & Volberg, 1999, 2000; Wardman, El-Guebaly & Hodgins, 2001). Although there has been a significant increase in literature related to addressing gambling problems generally, there has been more limited development of literature focused on the needs and aspirations of indigenous peoples.

Defining Problem Gambling

The majority of the population are apparently able to engage in 'recreational' gambling with little impact, apart from opportunity cost, however, for a portion of the population such activity is associated with significant harm. Negative consequences for these individuals, as well as their families, friends and wider community have included financial hardship, relationship difficulties and criminal offending, as well as physical and mental health problems (Abbott, 2001; Productivity Commission, 1999), with an estimated 10-15 people adversely affected for every one problem gambler (Abbott, 2001; Dickerson, 1984, cited in Public Health Association of Australia, 2002).

Like other forms of addiction, a number of factors have been identified in relation to the onset and maintenance of problem gambling (e.g. genetic, psychological, and environmental), contributing to various foci in terms of its conceptualisation (Murray, 1993; Baron, Dickerson & Balzczynski, 1995; Walker, 1995). Psychological theory and practice has arguably played a key role, particularly in terms of both aetiological formulation and development of interventions (Draycott & Dabbs, 1998; Lopez Viets & Miller, 1997; Sharpe, 2002). Despite such influence however, the most significant problems in this area have been constituted as 'pathological gambling' within the frameworks of psychiatric disorder, as defined in the DSM VI (Frances, First, & American Psychiatric Association Task Force on DSM VI, 1994). This definition has guided the development of policy, services, workforce and research from 1st July 2004 when the Ministry of Health took on the role of overseeing the funding and co-ordination of gambling services in New Zealand (Ministry of Health, 2004). …

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