The Problem with Gambling is Problem Gambling


Poker Machines; know the boundaries  Image:

The Illawarra is making drastic efforts to conquer issues with problem gambling. As part of the Responsible Gaming Awareness Week, a new initiative was given funding of $50 000 where 20 previous problem gamblers were trained in public speaking.

To raise awareness these individuals have been speaking at conferences and out in public on the issue with a focus on their own personal experience. According to the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, the stigma that is attached to problem gambling is a leading cause. Problem gamblers are unable to confide their issue due to shame.

By raising awareness, it is exposing the problem as something which can be helped through many different avenues.

Gaming and Promotions Executive at Steelers Club of Wollongong, Graham Crittenden said “It is not easy to pick someone who has a problem with gambling. Often they will try to hide the issue, though there are many options for people in need.”

A high percentage of problem gamblers hide their addiction by lying about their whereabouts. They are also often in denial which is why it is not possible to determine whether another is a ‘problem gambler.’

Clubs provide a self-exclusion program for individuals where they ban themselves from a venue. State gambling-prevalence surveys have reported that approximately 31%-61% of problem gamblers have utilised this service.

Crittenden said “Our club has found that the program is effective for certain individuals though the issue is that it only excludes them from the one venue.”

The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing is constantly assessing what can be done in order to deal with the issue. As stated by Crittenden, “Understanding the problem is the first step.”

If you are showing symptoms which have been described in this article, visit

If you want more information about problem gambling, visit


Cigarette Packaging looses the Branding


An old packet of Malboro Original GOLD cigarettes which will not be around for much longer in Australia, replaced with a new, less branded version. Image: Amy Hutchesson


The new packet of Marlboro Original GOLD cigarettes which is now in stores. There is now no branding, logo, advertisements or even colouring. Replaced is a daunting photo with transcription in support of quitting. Image: Amy Hutchesson

Australia is the first country to loose all advertising and will be replacing all cigarette packages. Image: Amy Hutchesson

Smoker of nine years, Michal Krawczyk is not happy about the new packaging though proves it is already effective, saying “I don’t want to buy them when I have to see the images.” Image: Amy Hutchesson

A Wollongong Makeover Set to Dazzle


Wollongong water feature in CBD removed for new modern look  Image: Amy Hutchesson

New plans to revitalise Wollongong city centre have been released detailing what will remain of the 25 year old mall. With a $5 million grant announced by the Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, alongside $10 million in support from council the plans are set to move into action by 2013.

Currently in excavation phase, the development team have announced that they are on schedule. At completion in 2014, the Mall will be fitted with 80 new stores, 650 new parking spaces and an array of new cafes and restaurants.

We are working to de-clutter the mall and create a modern and vibrant centre for Wollongong, announced the leader of the City Centre Revitalisation Team, Mark Grimson. The team want to result in attracting large businesses, bringing investment and tourists to the area.

Work behind the amphitheatre has already commenced with the removal of the old children’s play area, water feature and several trees, with the notion of creating a ’town square.’

Other potential plans include building a new children’s play area, incorporating new plant and tree species, lighting configurations, a performance area or space for local talent, public toilets and shelters for pedestrians.

Local people of Wollongong expressed great excitement and support when asked what they’re feelings were towards the changes. Local woman, Yvonne Cudby said “The plans are going be great for Wollongong as it’s needed a change for so long. It will boost the economy and give the place a great feel again.”

“Wollongong has such great potential and I hope the refurbishment will do it justice,” says another local, Janet Pezzutto.

If you’d like some more information or image plans of the new mall, visit

If you’d like to stay up to date with the progress, visit

Better Train, Illawarra Gain


Youth prepared to board at Train Station Image: Unknown source

The Illawarra has sat at a higher rate of unemployment than the rest of NSW for the last ten years. In 2010 it was more than double the state average.

Illawarra job applicants seem to suffer in obtaining jobs in the northern suburbs and Sydney. The uncertainty and unreliability of the train service seems to play a large factor in this issue.

A job consultant at the Smith Family Employment Plus service informed that it has been an issue for more than five years and constantly affects unemployment rates. Having dealt with patrons who are enduring the ‘hunt’ he knows all too well the extent of the problem.

“The Illawarra has a great working culture, it’s the local services which are letting us down,” he explains.

There is not a shortage of jobs in Sydney, a mere hour and half away. Though that hour and a half train trip is once every two hours, otherwise it is a trip up to three hours which stops at each station from Central down to the South Coast.

The train is infamous for regular problems including de-railing, even further delaying the travel process. Regular user of the train, Alana comments, “I often commute from Wollongong to Sydney for my work but I am going to be stopping that until I can drive because I am putting my job at risk.”

Kevin, who runs his own business in Helensburgh explained, “Having run my business for 23 years now, I can say that I won’t employ from down south because people can’t rely on the transportation. It makes it harder to employ up here but it saves me time and problems in the long run.”

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If you need information about current track work, visit

A Smoke-Free Wollongong in the Horizon


Wollongong CBD to become a non-smoking environment by 2013  Image: Amy Hutchesson

The NSW Government has announced a new law whereby smokers are not able to ‘light-up’ freely in the CBD. It is still undergoing survey though will be put into place as of January 2013.

The law has specified no smoking within a four metre distance from shop entrances or public dining areas, a ten metre distance from children’s play equipment or at any congested public area. As the policy is still being finalised, question as to whether there will be designated areas for smokers or how it will be regulated are still underway.

Much of the research done on behalf of the proposal has been based on public interest. Held at the start of October this month, were kiosks in the CBD with council staff answering questions and providing information.

“It seems as if a majority of the people who have something to say about this issue come from a non-smoking background,” was a comment made by a council member.

“We have received feedback from both sides of this issue, finding that smokers are not completely opposed to the law though would prefer if they had specific areas of ‘safety’,”  was another observation made by a council member.

There have been surveys, feedback forms and online discussions which have taken place throughout October and the results will play a large part in the implementation of the new law.

An issue which was addressed by most members of the public was how it will be regulated with such specifications. With talk of potential fines and/or fees the result of this mistake a lot of assumed smokers were not pleased.

Nothing has been completely agreed upon and there is still time to voice your opinion on this matter. If you are interested in having your say, visit or complete this Feedback page

Or to find out more information, access

If Only we had Help!


The front steps of The Wesley Church in Wollongong CBD  Image: Amy Hutchesson

You only have to drive past the centre at 10.50am to see the hungry patrons waiting their sustenance for the day. Feeding from 60 to 130 people a day, the Wesley Church Community Centre is a non-government funded organisation with a huge heart.

Their mission is to continue to assist those who now rely on them and to potentially expand. It is very difficult when they run on the kindness of locals and businesses. A call for help may push them one step closer to their goal.

Working alongside Head Organiser, Karen Zaine are as several permanent workers and volunteers. They range from locals, occasional assistants to recovered ‘users.’ Currently seeking new volunteers or assistance, Karen said, “If the government played a part in our objective, we’d be able to expand but it’s not top priority.”

As the shelter has been functional for   years without government assistance, they almost pride themselves on their ability to not only continue but flourish. With the addition of Tracy Zonneveld, a recovered ‘user’ who is now working full time at the centre, the weight is off Zaine.

“There is a cycle. The more volunteers, the more people we can help. The more people we can help, less crime and issues will occur in the area,” commented Zonneveld.

“Without access to these necessities, people become desperate and it can lead to crime, so I feel we are doing our bit for not just the people we help everyday but the local community,” said Zaine.

After speaking to the locals, it was truly evident how greatly the organisation benefits them. “Without the support of the shelter, I wouldn’t have enough money to feed my family. I need this place and I thank them so much for what they do,” explains Nathan.

If you want to help out and become a part of this organisation, visit

Or contact

If you are in need of some psychiatric help, visit

A Struggle to Success


Image: Tracy Zonneveld at the Wesley Church Community Centre

Tracy Zonneveld is a strong, caring and committed member of the local community. Though, her story getting to this stage is one of true hardship. Midway through her life, Tracy became addicted to substances, an addiction which would steal eleven of her years.  Amy Hutchesson reports

Tracy stands at the counter of the Wesley community shelter handing out food packages to the homeless or disadvantaged of Wollongong. Knowing that she was standing on the other side of the counter just two years ago reminds her of the feat she has accomplished.

Tracy, a mother of two children, owned a house and was running a family business with her partner. From the outside everything seemed very ideal. Though after events in her life turned upside down, Tracy found herself housed in Warrawong also known as ‘Legoland’ by locals, where she says it all began.

Tracy said “You don’t just wake up and think, I’m going to become addicted to drugs today.” From her recount it was clear that the process is sometimes so distorted that you don’t even realise it is happening.

Tracy hates the word ‘junkie,’ because she said people would assume she was involved in other behaviour commonly associated with drug use. “I was not involved in any other criminal behaviour; stealing, prostituting or selling drugs.” Tracy felt often assumed that if one is involved in a drug scene they are taking part in numerous other illegal activities.

Swapping from drug to drug in a ploy to escape this lifestyle, Tracy made a life changing decision. She was to induce herself onto the methadone program for exactly one year and in turn was on the path to recovery.

From October 2011 Tracy was off the methadone and was officially ‘clean’ for the first time in eleven years. Having only realised to the full extent the experience she had gone through, Tracy sort an outlet that would keep her away from her previous lifestyle.

Having previously been to the Wesley Community centre seeking assistance, Tracy felt it was her calling to change positions and become a volunteer. Not only did it keep her mind off her previous addictions but she could see from the outside what had been her own life. There was and will be no going back.

Tracy recently publicized her story to the Mercury which meant not just the community but her family. She says, “I wanted my family to know the truth and now that they do, I couldn’t go back and disappoint them.”

Tracy now dedicates her life to assisting those who are in the same position as she was for so many years. She says, “the last thing I want to do is turn to people and say, ‘look I’ve done it you can,’… people need to be ready and they need to do it for themselves.”

She is a self-educated woman who knows what people in these situations need and she has made it her life goal to provide this for them.