FINAL REPORT - My Gambling Story
A lifelong learning radio and internet initiative

Monday 4 November 2007


My Gambling Story is a six-part series of radio programs, each of between 12 and 13 minutes, and produced at PBA FM, for broadcast from October 2007 on PBA FM (89.7 on the FM band in Adelaide), and then on many other community radio stations around South Australia. Initial broadcast of this lifelong learning radio and internet initiative was in the weekly radio series Learning Works.

The radio broadcasts were supported by a limited edition CD of the series for some 20 community radio stations around SA, The availability online of all six programs as mp3 audiofiles, along with supporting Study Guides/Fact Sheets, is designed to facilitate further study of the topic of problem gambling in schools and adult education centres, as well as by individual listeners who may wish to further consider many of the matters raised in this community education initiative.


Program 1 – Introductory program 12’45”
mp3 audiofile Study Guide

Program 2 – Maryanne’s story (an Indigenous perspective)12’ 43”
mp3 audiofile Study Guide

Program 3 – Sylvia’s story (family issues) 12’ 01”
mp3 audiofile Study Guide

Program 4 – Ron’s story (horse racing/employment) 11’ 28”
mp3 audiofile Study Guide

Program 5 – Jo’s story (employment) 12’ 45”
mp3 audiofile Study Guide

Program 6 – Looking back and looking forward 13’ 02”
mp3 audiofile Study Guide


In proposing this initiative, the medium of radio was seen as important in the daily lives of most people, male and female gamblers included. Using elements of personal narrative complemented by expert input for the My Gambling Story project, through the medium of radio, listeners could reflect on issues surrounding gambling, thereby giving themselves and their families and friends an opportunity to raise and share their thoughts and feelings about some of these issues.

It was envisaged that the My Gambling Story initiative would built on the success of the earlier project – Pokies Blackjack and All That – planned, produced and presented by Tony Ryan through (5UV) Radio Adelaide back in 2000. As well as broadcast on most community radio stations around SA, this earlier initiative was incorporated into Australian Society units of study through the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of SA, with some hundreds of additional copies of the CD being purchased for this purpose.

This current initiative was seen to be a timely return to the topic of problem gambling. Before lodging the submission, PBA FM’s project manager Tony Ryan held discussions with the Learning Works Reference Group, and with some key health professionals. The series was formally proposed by Denise Guest (Executive Officer / Station Manager, PBA FM) and Tony Ryan.

Goals and Objectives

Through the community radio sector in South Australia, this project as seen as:

  • Providing a means for problem gamblers and their families to hear about others in similar situations, including their concerns and successes, and to become aware that there are others in our communities who are struggling with issues surrounding problem gambling;
  • Educating the ordinary listener about issues around problem gambling;
  • Providing a forum for further discussion on gambling and its consequences;
  • Promoting responsible gambling as an important issue within our communities;
  • Making the wider community aware of assistance available in South Australia on problem gambling issues, especially for listeners in regional and more remote areas, where it is often more difficult to gain access to this type of information.

It is our belief that these objectives were met, and will continue to be met through a repeat broadcast of the series in early 2008, and ongoing availability of mp3 audiofiles and study guides online. Community radio stations across SA usually repeat initiatives such as this on several occasions over two or three years.


An important practical consideration at the outset was the duration of a standard CD – approximately 78 minutes. Initially a series of ten programs, each of seven to eight minutes was proposed. Following the recording of the first stories for the series, it became evident that the seven minute duration, with story and expert input, was very limiting.

Valuable input was also gained from two representative country community radio stations - Trax FM in Port Pirie and Gulf FM in Kadina. So, given the requirement for a total duration of approx 78 minutes on one CD, a series of six programs, each 12 – 13 mins duration was decided upon.

Regarding content, our starting point took the form of three questions - What is problem gambling? Why do some people have a problem with their gambling? And when does a person with a gambling problem come to a realisation that some help is needed? It was envisaged that the subject matter chosen would be reasonably topical and practical rather than too abstract and academic, but also of interest to those working in the health and education and associated professions. Various publications provided invaluable resources for research.


Four South Australians readily agreed to share their gambling story for this project – Jo, Sylvia, Ron and Maryanne. Professional advice was provided by May Shotton, an Adelaide-based gambling help counsellor, Iain Henderson from the Australian Institute of Social Relations at Relationships Australia, and Debra Nelson, Gambling Help Services Counsellor with UnitingCare Wesley in Port Pirie. Iain, May and Debra all contributed to the series, as did Canberra-based Dr John O’Connor who has studied aspects of problem gambling and gambling addiction, and Rhonda Turley, Executive Officer Gaming Care South Australia, gave an industry perspective. Throughout this project, the Office for Problem Gambling in the South Australian Department for Families and Communities provided ready assistance and advice.


Consultations and planning took place in early 2007, with most recordings done by the end of July in Adelaide, Canberra and Port Pirie. Editing and further liaison were scheduled for August and September, with an agreed start date slightly later than originally envisaged - Monday 8 October, in Learning Works. All edited segments and all program links were submitted to the Office for Problem Gambling for approval.

CD Production

Some twenty community radio stations around SA had been alerted to this project in September, and by mid-November, the completed CD will be forwarded to these stations, along with publicity and related information. A special feature of the My Gambling Story CD is the approved use of the artwork of Indigenous artist Maryanne Scrutton Enalanga, and design by Jan Pana, both based in Port Pirie.

Expenditure within the project budget has meant that the production run of the CD could be increased from an estimated 30, to a total of 100. Distribution will be free of charge, to the 20 community radio stations, with allocations to DFC, PBA FM, and to the three series advisers, legal deposit, plus a complimentary copy to each program contributor. Some copies will be allocated to several community houses for use and feedback in early 2008.

The Gambling Helpline, a free 24 hour counselling, information and referral service, to assist people in South Australia with gambling-related problems, or those affected by the gambling of others including family members, was publicised at the end of each of the six programs, on the printed CD inserts and on the internet.


Some unavoidable delays on several fronts have meant that, as of today, both the finalization and printing of the artwork for the CDs, and the six study guides, is pending, although nearing completion. The master audio CD has been approved by DFC and all technical work has now been completed – when artwork is approved, printing will proceed immediately. The financial report will be submitted when the final payments are made – estimated at mid-November.

Learning Strategies

As mentioned earlier, the medium of radio was seen as an invaluable source of information and education for the wider community. As always, it is known that series such as My Gambling Story may be heard by audiences in the car, or as they work in the shed – good examples of education by stealth! In addition, each program is seen as providing a base for further discussion and study, especially if available on an ongoing basis after broadcast, for instance as audio on demand through the internet, and especially with online support material designed to facilitate group discussion and/or further study in schools and in adult community education.

The educational basis of this project grew from the earlier work of series producer Tony Ryan. With a long involvement in educational programming and executive production with ABC Education Radio, and award-winning executive production with Radio Adelaide (5UV), Tony Ryan is a graduate of Adelaide and Sydney Universities, and a Fellow of both The Australian College of Educators and the Australian Institute of Management.

Tony is currently Visiting Media Fellow with Adult Learning Australia in Canberra - the series will be publicised at the annual conference of Adult Learning Australia in Cairns 8 -10 November. If CD copies are available, some samples will be on display at the Conference in Cairns

Ongoing utlisation/feedback

Feedback from radio audiences is never great – it is usually when audiences either strongly like – or strongly dislike – a program that they will make contact. Early anecdotal evidence is all positive – more will be known in 2008 when the programs are repeated on PBA FM and all elements are available – eg website, study guides etc. Website is All six programs (and fact sheets when cleared by DFC) will be online by then. Placement on other websites will be further investigated and encouraged

Anecdotal feedback from station managers is usually obtained verbally on the run – most are very overworked and under-paid - most are the only paid worker in the station. As already stated, most of the other 20 stations in SA would usually repeat either the whole series or selected programs from time to time.

In South Australia, the ACE and Community Partnerships Unit of DFEEST has offered to seek feedback through some adult learning centres across SA – several have offered to use the series from CD in early 2008 and provide feedback. CANH (Community and Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association of SA) has also expressed strong interest on behalf of the sector. Two national organisations - Adult Learning Australia and the Australian College of Educators – have offered to provide invaluable publicity to the schools sector and to the adult community education sector.


My Gambling Story was funded by the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund, a joint initiative of the Australian Hotels Association, Clubs SA, SkyCity Adelaide, and the Government of South Australia. Credits have been included in each radio program, on the printed CD inserts, and at the end of each of the six Study Guides. Content disclaimers were added to the Fact Sheets at DFC request.

Key Performace Indicators

Item 6.2 in the Service agreement refers. All four points have been addressed throughout this project. Written Progress Reports have been delivered regularly to DFC throughout the project, approximately every three months.


  • A series of six programs was first broadcast on PBA FM beginning October 2007, and the series will shortly be delivered on CD, to approx 20 SA community radio stations;
  • The production run of CDs was significantly increased from an initial 30 to 100, this allowing additional distribution in consultation with the Office for Problem Gambling.
  • The Fact Sheets when complete will be a welcome addition to the Learning Works website;
  • Availability of all six programs and study guides, free of charge through the website, will ensure ongoing use;
  • Anecdotal feedback from stations already indicates that, when available, these resources will be most useful in their areas;
  • Limited time and especially budget has meant that little further work could be done to build relationships between individual stations, especially in rural SA, and local organizations such as gambling help services, adult community education providers, schools. However, some publicity channels have already been utilized by the project manager, to alert radio stations, community education centres and schools.

The freely given input of the two agreed series advisers – May Shotton and Iain Henderson – and significant input from Debra Nelson in Port Pirie - has been very much appreciated throughout the project.

Tony Ryan
Producer / Presenter Learning Works
PO Box 433
Salisbury SA 5108