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Lost contract cuts deep

Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014
Gambling worries
Nigel Moffiet

IN SHOCK: From left: Mangere East MP Sua William Sio, Problem Gambling Foundation clinician Rufo Tinai Pupualii and Otara Gambling and Alcohol Action Group chairwoman Yvonne Matson are worried funding cuts will lead to a rise in alcohol and gambling problems.

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A grassroots charity fighting alcohol and gambling addiction says funding cuts could sound its death knell.

The Government has announced it will not renew its contract with the Problem Gambling Foundation.

The contract ends in June and will be picked up by the Salvation Army.

Otara Gambling and Alcohol Action Group chairwoman Yvonne Matson says she was in "absolute shock" when she heard the news.

The foundation is her group's main source of funding.

"I didn't even know it was happening," Matson says.

"We've been going for 14 years and it's very hurtful for the community and bad for the people of Otara."

Mangere East Labour MP Su'a William Sio is concerned groups like the one Ms Matson is associated with might disappear if funding dries up.

"The worst pattern of this is that the community is being asked to do more and more for less and less.

"There's much more pressure now on the community to carry out social advocacy functions that once upon a time were done by government departments.

"These guys have been doing the right thing within the community and now they've been knocked on the head. We've got to send a clear signal that it's not on," he says.

Rufo Tinai Pupualii, who works with the Problem Gambling Foundation's Pacific unit, says she's worried many of her clients will be left in the dark.

Organisations like the Otara group have been critical in providing much-needed support, she says.

"We will be losing the voice of the community. We will also lose the trust of the community if we can't do our work effectively.

"There's a lot of work out there we need to finish. It will create so many gaps and I don't know who's going to replace those gaps."

Matson says she sees the effects of alcohol and gambling every day and the charity has cleaned up Otara dramatically over the years.

"We closed down two gambling places in Otara and there's only a couple left now. There has been a lot of improvement since we started - but where do we go to from here?"

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- Manukau Courier

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