Salvation Army faces funding cut, putting gambling addicts’ treatment at risk

The Salvation Army’s Oasis program, which has been providing services to prevent and reduce gambling harm for more than 30 years, is facing cancellation, causing concern among anti-addiction advocates and experts. The decision to end the program came as a surprise to the Army’s addictions national director, Rod Care, who expressed disappointment at missing out on the contract renewal.

The program, funded by the Ministry of Health, has helped over 60,000 patients and more than 2000 people impacted by gambling harm every year. Care highlighted the potential impact of the cancellation on recovering addicts, stating that it could hinder their ability to seek help and lead to relapses.

The abrupt change in service provider also raised concerns at the Gambling and Addictions Research Centre at Auckland University of Technology. Director Maria Bellringer emphasized the importance of the therapeutic relationship in the healing process for vulnerable individuals, expressing worries about the potential impact of the program’s cancellation.

Additionally, the Salvation Army’s unique ability to provide a comprehensive wrap-around service for patients was highlighted as a significant loss for the gambling-harm sector. Bellringer noted that the program’s institutional knowledge and collaborative approach in research and understanding gambling harms would be sorely missed.

Peter Thorburn, a former addict and advocate in the mental health industry, echoed these concerns, emphasizing the importance of addressing underlying mental health and other challenges in conjunction with gambling addiction. He emphasized the potential setback for thousands of individuals who may struggle to find alternative services and could be at risk of relapse.

The program’s cancellation was met with disappointment and concern over the potential impact on those in need of specialized anti-gambling services. The Salvation Army’s Oasis program is set to end by January 31, 2024, leaving many individuals and professionals navigating uncertain and challenging circumstances.