9 August 2012
The NSW Council of Churches has backed a controversial initiative by the Salvation Army Eastern Territory to take part in a trial of gambling chaplaincy in a NSW Central Coast club.
The 12-month trial will see a uniformed Salvation Army Chaplain visiting the club for up to 15 hours per week to provide non-judgmental support, referrals, practical help and intervention to staff and patrons of the Mingara Club.
NSW Council of Churches President, Revd Dr Ross Clifford, said he supported the concept but not at the expense of continued strong commitment to gambling reform.
“We stand with the Salvos on this, but we also want to see federal and state government action to curb problem gambling through the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment technology and $1 maximum bets for all poker machines in Australia,” Dr Clifford said.
“This new initiative shows that Clubs NSW acknowledges the problem of gambling addiction among patrons in its venues,” Dr Clifford said.
The Salvation Army’s Director of Social Programs, Major Paul Moulds, confirmed that the new partnership with Clubs NSW would not restrict The Salvation Army’s ability to speak out against the negative impact of poker machines on communities.
The NSW Council of Churches reaffirmed its strong support for the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce in pursuit of policies of mandatory pre-commitment technology and $1 maximum bets for all poker machines.
The Council also renewed its call for NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to launch an inquiry into the social impact of gambling.
“NSW has a majority of the nation’s poker machines, and we also have a stable government in NSW that allows us to implement any change for social good, unlike the federal government,” Dr Clifford said.
Media contact Rod Benson 0412 421 678