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The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to problem gambling prevention.

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Four Building Blocks of Earning Trust within Communities

by Responsible Gambling Council | Mar 22, 2013 02:01 PM

Newscan (Vol. 15, Issue 11)

A cornerstone of prevention is persuasion—because changing people’s behaviour usually involves motivating them to do so. And persuading people means communicating messages that are credible, memorable and most importantly: trustworthy.

As we all know, what constitutes credible, memorable and trustworthy is not the same for everyone—and there is no greater determinant for this than culture, in all its complexity. Language, age, ethnicity, gender, geography all play a part in our cultural norms—and without a deep understanding of these influences, prevention programs and treatment efforts will not succeed.

"When developing prevention initiatives targeting ethno-cultural communities,” says Vince Pietropaolo, a general manager at COSTI Immigrant Services, “collaborating with credible community leaders, inviting input from the specific community and ethno-specific community organizations to develop the content and assist with the delivery is key to gaining the community’s trust."

What follows are four universal principles of trust building that are particularly important when engaging ethno-cultural or indigenous communities.

Know—and Avoid—Harmful Stereotypes

Research is essential: what are the cultural norms that influence the behaviours within this group? What are the other contributing factors? Without answering these kinds of questions, cultural stereotyping—and the resulting alienation of the community in question—can undermine prevention or other awareness efforts before they even begin.

When it comes to gambling, research has identified particular cultural stigmas about seeking treatment, different manifestations of shame, and a variety of traditions and cultural histories that contribute to people’s understanding of problem gambling (Raylu, et. al, 2003). There are also the specific stressors of immigration that can place people at increased risk for gambling problems (Raylu & Oei, 2004).

For example, as Tracy Jiang Gow, an RGRC service coordinator and former casino dealer, will highlight in her Discovery 2013 presentation, Chinese culture has many important and unique features that make the tailoring of messages crucial. She has learned in her own interactions with patrons that an active listening approach, where patrons are invited to “tell their gambling story,” can be an effective way to open conversations with this group.

Using the Right Words to Connect with People

To engage communities in change it is necessary to connect with them, which is a process that often begins by addressing linguistic challenges.

When informational brochures or online resources are translated, for example, it is not enough to go to a professional translator to ensure language accuracy. Rather, the material must be reviewed by a native speaker who works in the counselling field to ensure that the messages and tone are culturally sensitive and meet the desired goal. For example, Nina Littman-Sharp from the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario explained, terms like “therapy” and “counselling” have wide-ranging meaning in different cultures, and it is essential that the concept is understood the way it is meant in a Canadian context.

Three Words: Partnership, Partnership, Partnership

As Nina will explain in her Discovery 2013 presentation, since 2000, the Ontario Resource Group on Gambling, Ethnicity and Culture has worked successfully to promote the development of culturally and linguistically appropriate problem gambling outreach and treatment in Toronto and across Ontario. One initiative, the Multilingual Problem Gambling Service (MPGS), now offers treatment in 18 languages in the Toronto area (and Ontario-wide, by phone).

A building block of success for this kind of project is the extensive consultation with ethno-specific groups who have a deeper connection to their communities. In a word, they are trusted. By combining this specific cultural knowledge with the expertise in mental health and problem gambling, great strides can be made in engaging a wide range of communities.

The Gold Standard is Reaching Out from Within

It is common sense that outsiders are less likely to be trusted. When it comes to Aboriginal and First Nations work, earning that trust from the outside has its particular challenges. One of the most important lessons, says Sheila Wahsquonaikezhik, an RGRC service coordinator and a member of the Ojibways of Batchewana Band in Sault Ste. Marie, is that outside expertise is valued as long as it is invited.

As she will outline in her Discovery 2013 talk about her outreach work over the last 18 months, the collaborative information sharing that she has engaged in with communities across Ontario shows great promise of helping these communities help themselves—giving positive change the greatest chance of success.