Write to your MP: A Guide - Alliance for Gambling Reform

Write to your MP

A Helpful Guide

Write to your MP:

Why do it:

As your elected representative, your MP is interested in hearing about the issues that matter to you! We want to make sure gambling reform is on their political agenda. What we aim for is more MPs becoming concerned about this issue and bringing it up within their political party. 

You can write an email or a letter to your MP- both are powerful ways of communicating.

How to do it:

  1. Find out who your MP is!
    1. For Federal MP: click here
    2. For States MPs:
  2. Google your MP, find out their contact details
    1. Go to the "Contact" section of their website. Some will have an email address listed on their website, others will require you to complete an online form- both are a good way to get a message across.
  3. Compose a message

In your writing:

  • Use their proper title
    • Find your MP’s correct title and contact details here, in the document titled Mail Labels for Members: All Members Electorate Offices.
    • Start your letter as follows: ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr/Ms Last Name’.
  • Introduce yourself and your issue
    • Tell them why this matters to you
      • Add a personal touch- storytelling is incredibly powerful and will help make the issue real and tangible for your MP.
        • Storytelling used in conjunction with statistics is crucial in advocacy as it connects the head and the heart of your MP – helping them understand the need for change both rationally and emotionally.
      • Inform them that their stance on this issue affects the way you vote. Also, express that others in your electorate care about this issue and expect a response from them!
  • Use facts or statistics to help make your case.
    • To find helpful information to quote in your message, check out the Alliance's news sections and look for recent articles
  • Ask a direct question
    • This will make sure your MP has something specific to reply to. 
      • i.e. "Will you publicly support a policy of maximum $1 bets for poker machines and reduce operating hours for pokie venues?" OR "I would like to discuss this with you in further detail in person. Could we arrange a meeting on (list available dates)?
  • Ask for a response in writing
    • This is really important! The MP or their staff are more likely to read your letter and address your concerns if you're expecting a response.
  • Be concise
  • Proof-read before you send it!

Examples:

Letter to an MP:

"Dear Premier Berejiklian,

The Bill proposing reforms to the laws governing poker machines in NSW currently before Parliament needs to be sent a Parliamentary Inquiry.

I am particularly concerned that NSW has the worst pokies problem in Australia. This is due to long-term industry capture reflected in the lowest pokies taxes in Australia, the greatest density of machines, the slackest regulations and the most dangerous machine designs with $10 maximum bets.

Harm minimization needs to be taken seriously in NSW. Pokies losses in NSW have topped $6.1 billion annually, accounting for nearly half of Australia's total pokie losses.

The legislation before you fails to take the appropriate steps to adequately minimize harm related to poker machines. I am concerned about:

• The failure to actively reduce the 95,000 machines in NSW. A cap has been proposed to stop new pokies in the hardest hit areas, but it won’t even apply to all those applications currently in the pipeline, such as at the Fairfield Hotel. By failing to decrease the excessive number of pokies in NSW, the harm already occurring isn't being addressed, nor is it being curtailed.
• The failure to disclose annual losses at each of the 2600 pokie venues across NSW, thus making it harder to track losses and as a result, address pokie-related harm in NSW.
• Neither the local council nor community groups will be informed of applications of less than 20 machines in less impacted areas.
• NSW still not recognising the enormous harm that pokies do to communities, namely, poverty, addiction and mental health issues and especially, the link between gambling harm and family violence. Victorian regulators are now acknowledging this link when deciding on pokie applications and I urge NSW politicians to prioritise the safety of women and families within every aspect of decision-making.
• Clubs NSW will now be co-regulating pokies alongside the government This effectively out-sources the government’s supervisory role to the very industry causing the enormous harm to the community in the first place!
• The bill removes the requirement for pokies to be forfeited and instead, seeing them leased, will considerably slow down the reduction of machines in NSW.

As you can see, the legislation is failing to address pokie-related harm in NSW seriously. What I ask of you, as a constituent, is to vote to delay this legislation!

It needs to be thoroughly examined through a Parliamentary Inquiry. We can make it better and to rush this through would be to the detriment of thousands of Australians throughout NSW.

Please delay this legislation!

Yours sincerely,"

 

Email to a Minister:

"Dear Minister Kairouz,

Last month you announced poker machine reform saying you had put a freeze on the current state cap of 27,372 machines. However, you also doubled entitlements to 20 years and club venue operators had their maximum ­machine caps increased from 420 to 840. This is not enough to minimize the harm pokies cause to our society.

Overall pokie losses over the last financial year were $2.61 billion in Victoria. That's an average of $7,149,397 every day in 2016-17. Per Victorian adult, $542 is lost, in just one year. That's money that should've been spent building, not breaking our communities.

It's our most vulnerable areas that are the worst affected. The City of Casey experienced a rise in losses to $127 million. Greater Dandenong lost $118 million, Greater Geelong lost $114 million and the City of Brimbank lost a whopping $134 million!

The data's out and one thing is absolutely certain: Victoria has a serious pokie problem. As Minister, what do you plan to do to lower pokie losses in this state? What will you do to protect our communities from further pokie harm?

As a concerned citizen, I want you to know that this matters to me. I'd like a response in writing which addresses my concerns.

Yours sincerely,"

 

Write to a decision-maker:

A decision-maker is anyone who is able to influence or change a current position. This could be a State Gaming Regulator (like the VCGLR- Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation), a Council, a decision-making body (like VCAT- Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) or a Board of Directors (like for Woolworths or an AFL Club).

In every case, writing letter's to them is incredibly important so they can get a sense of where the community stands on an issue and if this is likely to impact their position or their reputation. In the cases of authorities that make decisions regarding poker machine applications (like your Council, the VCGLR or VCAT), it's important to convey the impact this will have on you and your community and what course of action you would like them to take- i.e. rejecting the application! 

If you are writing to a Board, (i.e. an AFL club or pokie operator like Woolworths), it's important to outline how this impacts you as a consumer, supporter or member. Will their association with poker machines change your relationship with this corporation or club? If so, tell them explicitly! 

Letters to decision-makers can be longer than a letter to the editor and you are encouraged to tell them more about yourself and why this matter is important to you personally! Make sure to include an action for them, like a response in writing.  

 

Examples:

Letter to an AFL club:

"Dear Sir/Madam,

I won't bang on about the devastation Pokies cause, as I'm sure you are well aware.

I would, however, like to suggest a use for the empty rooms once all the evil Pokie machines have been removed.

How about we fill them with Kids and the players they look up to, a regular weekly meet and greet night with there heroes in the flesh, say Hi, sign a few jumpers, a game of handball, no raffles or prizes, just a family night out- the Kids won't sleep that night.

A different kind of can't sleep after you have had your weeks pay stolen from you by a poker machine.

PLEASE let's keep the game fair for all.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your positive response."

 

Letter to a Local Council:

Dear Councillors, 

I am making a submission on the Gambling and Poker Machine Harm Management Strategy. It is important to me that the Northern Beaches Council stands up for gambling reform and does all that it can to protect residents.

Currently, residents of the Northern Beaches lose nearly $500,000 every day to poker machines. As a resident, I find this extremely concerning and would like to see Council adopt a policy (not a strategy) to prevent further harm from poker machines.

A policy should include statements on:
• The impact of gambling on residents, backed up by Council’s own research
• The need for a reduction in poker machine numbers, not just a cap
• Council should work to remove all gambling from council owned land
• Council should work to end gambling related sponsorship of council owned land
• Council should lobby the state government to implement real reform and make real and faster reductions in poker machines
• Council should address every application for more poker machines
• Council should hold regular community meetings about poker machine venues
• Council should not have any council events in pokie venues

 

Letter to a decision-making body (the VCGLR) from someone impacted by gambling harm:

"Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation
3/12 Shelley Street
Richmond 3121
Wednesday 24th January 2018

Re: Application by the Darebin RSL, 402 Bell St Preston, for 15 additional EGMs

Dear VCGLR Commissioners,


I am writing to urge you to reject the license application by the Darebin RSL for 15 more EGMs and increased opening hours.


The Darebin RSL is 200 metres from my house. I have been one of the venue’s “great” customers and have lost significant sums of money there. It is the closest pokies venue to my house in an area which is overwhelmed with them. I have personally been severely harmed by pokies.


I went to the Australian Hotels Association and used their self-exclusion program to try and get myself banned from the venue. But the Darebin RSL continued to let me gamble without challenging me. I went down there with my partner and she had a robust discussion with the manager. His response was "We have over 200 gamblers on the self-exclusion list and you can't expect my staff to notice all of them." This proves what a pointless system self-exclusion is, although other venues such as the Cramer Hotel have refused me entry in the past, so it can work if venues police it properly. Darebin RSL doesn't make the effort.


The Darebin RSL is a private club so you are supposed to sign in to get into the venue, but the front desk is frequently unmanned so anyone can walk in and sign the member's book, or not, which is most often the case. If they had someone checking the sign in book against gamblers who have self-excluded it would be of great benefit. They do no more than pretend to be interested in “responsible gambling”.
I am particularly concerned about proposed changes to their opening hours. The venue currently closes at 1am at the latest which is relatively early for a pokies venue in Preston. If they were open later, I would be much more vulnerable. I find the 1am closing time beneficial as I often gamble in the early hours of the morning when I'm out and about. We certainly don't need any more machines with extended hours in the area. There are three venues within a ten-minute walk from my front door. 


Finally, this venue has shown itself to be untrustworthy in delivering benefit to the community. Over a decade ago the RSL was gifted some land by the Preston Club in exchange for keeping sporting facilities well maintained and available to the community.
The RSL reneged on this deal leaving community members without much-needed facilities. They cannot be trusted now to deliver anything and it is particularly galling that they propose changing hours and more machines before they are willing to do the
redevelopment that might deliver something for the community.


Please don’t further risk my health and safety and the health, safety and well-being of my community by approving this application. 


Yours sincerely,"

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