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Gambling is seen by many to be part of the Australian fabric of life, but for many people, gambling is an addiction that wrecks the lives of individuals, families and whole communities.
In this week’s Synod, (the annual parliamentary-style meeting of the Sydney Anglican Diocese), we stood together to bring attention to this problem that affects so many in our community.
Indeed, $2 billion dollars a year is spent in the Illawarra alone on gambling!
We agreed to call on the government to put in some measures to try and reduce the impact of problem gambling, including a $1 maximum bet for pokies, a stop to putting a greater proportion of poker machines in lower-socioeconomic areas, and a call on gambling venues to come up with better ways to help problem gamblers.
We also agreed that Sydney Anglican affiliated organisations would get rid of any investments that make more than 10% or $50 million a year from gambling.
Let us pray for the people in our families and our region who have a problem with gambling, asking that they would find real hope in the real Jesus, not a false hope in the adrenaline bet that brings such pain and disappointment.
According to Mental Health Australia, almost half the total population experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime, and at least one third of young people have had an episode of mental illness by the age of 25 years.
What’s more, one in five people will experience depression in their lives, and there are more deaths by suicide than motor vehicle accidents.
As with all illnesses, we are reminded that our world is broken and we long for the time when Jesus will return to bring an end to the pain and suffering from all kinds of sickness.
As we await his return, we should pray to God about the mental illnesses that affect us, and we should seek the professional help that God has provided for us through our medical system.
In this Mental Health Week, let us continue to remind each other of these words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
For immediate help, contact Lifeline 13 11 14.