National Sporting Code and Betting Company Seek Charity Partnership
5 October 2017 at 9:02 am
A controversial move by a major Australian sporting body and an online betting company to try and partner with a charity to address the mental health concerns of young men across the country, has raised concerns among the sector.
The partnership would be facilitated by sponsorship company Cavill + Co, who has not revealed the identity of the organisations, but has described them as “a national sporting code” and a “wagering company [which] is an industry leader in social responsibility”.
Cavill + Co’s founder, Hailey Cavill-Jaspers, told Pro Bono News a desire to form this partnership came about because both organisations were “passionate about corporate social responsibility (CSR), and recognised the mental health of young men as a key issue”.
“These organisations have been in partnership [and have had] a commercial relationship for about five years,” Cavill-Jaspers said.
“And both of them independently have been working on their CSR. The sporting code is very concerned about issues in the community and wants to show leadership in that space.
“The wagering company, knowing that the industry has been under scrutiny, has been spending a lot of time and investment on addressing issues their impact.
“Both organisations found mental health was a top concern [for the community].”
She said a charity partnership with these organisations would offer a “very unique ability to reach millions of Australians”.
“The thing that makes this really appealing is that a lot of their customers are men, who are really hard to reach. I know from reading research that mental illness is escalating among men,” Cavill-Jaspers said.
“My personal view is that there is still a stigma around discussing mental illness, and I think men in particular are not great with talking about how they feel.
“So this is an opportunity to get some key messaging to men about how they can address their mental health issues and get help.”
The announcement outlined some of the other main benefits of the partnership, which went beyond simply an increased reach for a charity.
There would be a $1 million investment in a partner over five years, plus promotional and in-kind assets valued at more than $3 million a year.
There would also be access to a range of resources including sporting talent, an ad agency and app developers, a office space for meetings and campaign promotion databases reaching millions of Australians.
As a flagship public partnership, the announcement declared it would be “publicly promoted, therefore [a partner] must be comfortable publicly aligning with a sporting code and an online wagering company”.
Cavill-Jaspers said she was aware that many charities would be reluctant to partner with a wagering company, but she pleaded with mental health groups to not “just rule it out”.
“I think some organisations are a bit quick to just rule out certain companies without thinking it through. But for this one, they are so many opportunities beyond just the money and [I know this wagering company] has a genuine desire to do this properly,” she said.
“They’ve literally spent the last two years building a really solid corporate responsibility strategy and putting measures in place… that go beyond what other wagering companies have done to ensure people don’t spend money they don’t have.
“If charities just rule it out, they are going to miss out on an opportunity to get their message and their tools into the hands of people that really need it.”
She dismissed suggestions that it would send a mixed message for a mental health group to partner with a wagering company, and asserted there was no causal link between gambling and mental illness.
“I’ve read every piece of credible research available on this and there is actually no causal link between gambling and mental illness. Gambling doesn’t cause mental illness,” she said.
“There is obviously a correlation because, from a personal perspective, people who are not happy with themselves and are struggling might gamble to get a bit of a pep up.
“But at the end of the day, if they then continue to do that and spend money they don’t have, there is a level of personal responsibility that people need to take. I haven‘t seen any research that says gambling causes mental illness.”
However in a statement provided to Pro Bono News by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, a spokesperson said their own research had found problem gambling was associated with mental health issues.
“The proposed partnership raises some interesting issues that have not been explored in any depth by the gambling research community,” the statement said.
“Both the wagering company and any not for profit thinking about entering into a partnership agreement together should take into consideration research into the co-occurrence of problem gambling with other mental health conditions.
“Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation-funded research released in July 2017 (Problem Gambling in People Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness) found that problem gambling was associated with alcohol and other drug use disorders, mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders and personality disorders.
“In addition, the report found that about three-quarters of people seeking treatment for a gambling problem also have a mental illness, most often a mood disorder. [That] problem gambling prevalence in gamblers who attended mental health services was eight times higher than in the Victorian general population. [And also] the risk of gambling-related harm is greater among those with mental illness.”
The Cavill + Co founder acknowledged the partnership would be controversial, but hoped a not for profit would take advantage of the opportunity.
“This will ruffle some feathers I’m sure, and hopefully it will create a bit of a debate. There will be some organisations that I know won’t consider it… but there will be others I hope that look at the opportunity and [realise that] this opportunity is too great to miss,” Cavill-Jaspers said.
She said they hoped to have a partner selected by the end of this year.