Problem gambling and seeking help for an addiction is surrounded by stigma in Asian cultures. In many Asian countries gambling is illegal and prohibited, and addiction is perceived as a legal issue rather than a health issue. Those who gamble are considered to be people of ‘low life’ or ‘uneducated’, and Asians commonly associate addiction with illicit drug use and alcohol abuse.
Many Asians in New Zealand do not engage with mainstream media and the majority of them rely on ethnic media (radio, television, print, online ethnic websites) to get information. Many mainstream social marketing campaigns are not picked up by ethnic media, unless it is paid for by the public sector.
So, at Asian Family Services we try to engage in conversations with Asian people by running workshops, seminars, and stall displays in different Asian communities and at different events to share information on gambling harm and how to get help. We provide culturally and language appropriate resources, give-away free promotional material at events, and provide fun activities for children and families, such as face painting and balloon animals. This allows us to break down barriers and open a up a discussion on gambling harm with people who approach us. It also allows us to conduct ‘brief interventions’ with people, which is an awareness raising tool we use to identify whether someone is experiencing gambling harm.
When engaging with Asian communities, it is important to remember:
- Asian communities are transient and not static, ongoing engagement is essential, especially to educate new migrants.
- Many Asians do not speak fluent English and prefer using their native language to converse. They also prefer to read material in their own language.
- Many new migrants do not understand how to access health and social services in New Zealand.
- Asian communities do not understand the purpose of a not-for-profit organisation because it is a foreign concept to many of them. They believe that NGOs are run by volunteers rather professionals and therefore, are less likely to contact an NGO service when they need help.
For more information on Asian Family Service’s public health work, or if you are hosting an event we could host a stall at, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ivan Yeo is the deputy director and health promotion lead at Asian Family Services.