Document Type


Publication details

Breen, H 2010, 'Risk factors and protective factors associated with Indigenous gambling in North Queensland, PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright H Breen 2010


This study examines the gambling behaviours, motivations for gambling and consequences of gambling for Indigenous Australian in north Queensland (QLD). It identifies and examines risk factors - those influences or variables associated with increased risk and with a high probability of adverse gambling outcomes. It also identifies and examines protective factors - those influences or variables that assist gamblers to make decisions that protect them from exposure to harmful outcomes from their gambling. A public health approach is taken to examine gambling. This approach is designed to study the broad impacts of gambling on a population or group. a public health approach recognises that for most of the population gambling is a recreation activity. Public health policy emphasises harm prevention and harm reduction for the majority of the population but also identifies counselling and treatment for smaller groups having problems with their gambling. A public health model, the Modle of Influences on Gambling Behaviours and Outcomes (Thomas and Jackson 2004), is used here to analyse gambling behaviour, including risk and protective factors associated with the propensity to gamble, the influence of gambling products and services and the consequences of gambling. Both card gambling and commercial gambling are investigated by the author, a non-Indigenous researcher. Permission was sought and approval was granted to conduct this research from various senior Indigenous Australians, Elders and Traditional Owners, and/or from representatives of leading Indigenous organisations in three north QLD locations. Using qualitative methods and purposeful sampling, 14 non-Indigenous gambling help counsellors and 20 non-Indigenous gaming venue managers. Most interviews were held with individuals, and many were iterative. Feedback was obtained from most of the research participants. The research results indicate that while some of the risks associated with card gambling and commercial gambling are consistent with those in the literature, there are additional cultural risks. These include: historical attitudes to, and beliefs about gambling; the effects of colonisation on Indigenous Australians; the use of traditional means of exchange; Indigenous reciprocity; the ripple effect of gambling consequences for individuals, families and communities; and outcomes including poverty, cultural isolation and generational influences. Few culturally appropriate public health resources appear to exist to assist people manage these risks. Protective factors associated with card and commercial gambling by Indigenous Australians include mostly cultural factors. These include: individual and social group controls, religious beliefs, engagement with collective culture, cohesion, limits on gambling access, role models, cultural relatedness and resilience. As adapted and refined model of Indigenous gambling in north QLD is proposed based on the incorporation of interplay between risk and protective factors and cyclical reinforcement of risk factors and of protective factors.