Independent Gambling Authority

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:40): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Consumer and Business Services on the accountability of the Independent Gambling Authority.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I met yesterday with Communities Against Pokies, who are a grassroots advocacy group which takes a peer approach where people who have had problems with gambling support those who have problems with gambling. After our meeting they raised many concerns that they say have not been appropriately addressed, either by the IGA or, indeed, so far by the commissioner. I think they are of such grave concern that I asked them to then write to me. They stated in a letter yesterday:

As discussed, we feel that we are unable to recommend banning through the IGA to problem gamblers at this time…

The reasons for this are many, but they refer to particular problem gamblers who have approached the IGA only to be given incorrect information; requests to be banned have untimely delays; requests for envelopes with their banning information not to be marked with IGA insignia have also been ignored, which meant that the particular person's status as a problem gambler was then revealed to their family; and requests for information that they not be told the venues they were banned from also were ignored: they were given information being told the venues they were banned from, so then not actually having that protection of the security of not knowing those venues.

On a broader level, some of their complaints go to prominent members of the IGA making public disparaging comments about problem gamblers, some of which I have viewed on Facebook and certainly find to be credible. Communities Against Pokies wrote to the former minister (minister Rau) about this issue; they were referred to Robert Chappell (the director) and they have yet to receive a response. They also wrote to the commissioner, Dini Soulio, in January this year and have yet to receive a response; they have yet to receive an acknowledgement. My question to the minister is: how can she assure Communities Against Pokies that they can have trust to refer people to the IGA?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) (14:42): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. Indeed, Mr President, we have put a number of measures in place to assist problem gamblers, as the honourable member refers to. One of those is voluntary barring, and there is also an involuntary barring arrangement, as well as family protection orders.

These provisions were put in place back in July 2014, and they give the Independent Gambling Authority the power to bar problem gamblers for the protection of their own welfare or the welfare of their dependants. It is actually an offence to breach a barring order, and to do so incurs a particular penalty. There are also orders that may be made by gambling providers for their respective premises or businesses for a period of up to three months, and during that time, the IGA can invite the barred person to discuss whether the barring order should be for a longer period of time, or more venues, or whatever might be appropriate (for instance, other types of gambling).

These fairly new barring arrangements are supported by a secure online service, so that gambling providers can make barring orders online by venue or type of gambling, and have online access to things like recent photos of persons barred from their venue. There is also a paper-based system available for gambling providers without internet access so that personal details can be protected.

I am obviously deeply concerned to hear some of the complaints that have been reported here by the Hon. Tammy Franks. To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of those complaints. I am not aware that the commissioner has received written correspondence about those issues, so I am not able to outline what response has been taken, but if the Hon. Tammy Franks wants to make available to my office as much of the details around the complaints as she can, I will certainly make sure that they are followed up and responded to in an appropriate way.

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