Gambling Seminar with A/Professor Samantha Thomas

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A/Prof Samantha Thomas with Mike Daube, Melissa Stoneham and PhD students Hannah Pitt and Amy Bestman

On the 9th of June, PHAIWA was pleased to host a presentation from A/Professer Samantha Thomas, Principal Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong, and Distinguished Professorial Fellow at the University of Tuebingen. Attended by various government and non-government representatives, Samantha presented on the Normalisation of Sports Based Gambling in Australia. Samantha’s work is based on understanding the impact of gambling industry tactics on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. She has been a longtime advocate for independent research into gambling harm, and is particularly interested in promoting gambling within sport and the impact on children and young adults.

 Samantha positioned gambling as one of the ‘Big Four’ unhealthy commodities in sport, alongside tobacco, junk food and alcohol. With Australians being the biggest gamblers in the world, and the wide reaching consequences that harmful gambling can have on the wider community, Samantha discussed the way sports betting has evolved over the past few years, highlighting the various ways which industry promotes gambling activities through sport. Industry encompasses gambling providers, broadcasters, sporting codes and clubs, with often unclear relationships. Gambling activities are promoted through various marketing strategies throughout Australia, including online wagering, pokies at sports clubs which directly raise club revenue, advertising at games, through online broadcasts, and via sports club sponsorship.

Samantha discussed the process by which gambling has been ‘normalised’ in sport in Australia, with online wagering providing an easily accessible avenue for gambling, and promoting fans to be part of the sporting ‘experience’. These tactics are slowly leading to social and cultural acceptance of sports betting, through methods such as peer based advertising, linking ‘skill’ with successful wagering, and saturating environments. Of concern, these strategies heavily influence children’s perceptions of normality of gambling products in sport, with further research currently being undertaken in this area. Public health research and advocacy remains a powerful, and urgently needed, tool to reduce community harm from gambling.

 PHAIWA will soon be releasing a position paper on gambling and public health advocacy strategies.


Advocacy Workshop - Dieticians Association of Australia National Conference

On May 14 and 15 PHAIWA delivered an advocacy workshop at the Dieticians Association of Australia 32nd National Conference in Perth. Aimed at practitioners new to advocacy, the workshop provided an introduction to advocacy and the skills needed to be an effective public health advocate.  Practical examples of advocacy in action were be highlighted to explore advocacy concepts. Group activities helped participants develop their own advocacy campaign through defining their advocacy issue, recognising their opposition and possible collaborating partners, and planning advocacy strategies that could be utilised to get their message across. 

Evaluation feedback was exceptionally positive, with many participants expressing renewed enthusiasm to advocate for nutrition and dietetics issues.

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Fantastic group of health professionals at the DAA Conference Advocacy Workshop


Curtin Visiting Fellow Professor Kim Raine

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Dr. Kim Raine, current Professor in the Centre for Health Promotion Studies, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, was hosted by PHAIWA as a Curtin Visiting Fellow during March and April 2015.

She is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and was trained as a registered dietitian. Dr. Raine’s research program, POWER (Promoting Optimal Weights through Ecological Research), explores the social determinants of the obesity epidemic, and policy and community‐based population interventions to promote healthy weights and prevent chronic diseases. From 2008‐2013 she held an Applied Public Health Chair funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF).

 She has published over 130 peer reviewed articles, and has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences. During her time with PHAIWA, Professor Raine delivered two guest lectures to packed audiences. These lectures were titled:

- ‘What is the Appetite for Policy Change for Obesity Prevention? A Survey of Canadian Decision-Makers’

- ‘Developing a Report Card on Children's Food Environments and Nutrition: A Tool for Advocacy’

You can view Professor Raine’s presentations in the attachments below.

 Kim April 10      Kim presenting 17 April


Advocacy Workshop - Northam

PHAIWA travelled to Northam on Monday 9 March to deliver a workshop to public health professionals working in the Wheatbelt. Organised by the Wheatbelt Public Health Unit, a total of 30 participants attended from a range of organisations: WA Country Health Service (Wheatbelt); Shire of Northam; Shire of Toodyay; Avon Youth, Community and Family Services; Cancer Council WA; Department of Sport and Recreation; Holyoake; and the Wheatbelt Development Commission. It was fantastic to have such a range of organisations represented at the workshop and all attendees commented that it was a great way to network and build partnerships with like-minded organisations.

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Participants start the workshop by selecting a photo representing 'advocacy'

The workshop provided an introduction to advocacy, the importance of key messages, tips for building coalitions and partnerships, and outlined common advocacy strategies. PHAIWA were very fortunate to be joined at the workshop by Dr Kim Raine, Visiting Curtin Fellow & Professor at the Centre for Health Promotion Studies, School of Public Health, University of Alberta. Dr Raine presented about the Canadian experience of childhood obesity, discussing the influence of the food environment and how public health advocacy can work to counteract the marketing of junk food by multi-national companies.

During the afternoon, Dr Mel Stoneham delivered an informative session about how public health professionals can work with local government to achieve public health objectives. Dr Stoneham commented on how the legislated requirement for all local governments to develop a Public Health and Wellbeing Plan demonstrates the potential synergies between public health and local government. This session was highly evaluated by all participants, with one individual commenting that, “the sessions on local government highlighted some of the areas that need further priority when dealing with individual local governments”. The overall evaluations of the workshop demonstrated that participants developed a deeper knowledge and understanding about advocacy and now feel confident that they are equipped to engage as public health advocates in the Wheatbelt community.

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Workshop participants discussing key messages for their public health advocacy issue