Greater Shepparton Secondary College (GSSC) Year 7 student Charleigh Hack is setting her sights on taking a petition to ban gambling advertisements on television to state parliament.
“The whole idea for the petition started last year when I took Civics class as an elective for semester one,” Ms Hack said.
“We had a project to make a petition about a topic we were interested in . . . but then COVID-19 hit, and we went into lockdown, and by then the term had ended.
“So we revisited it this year, and I mentioned it to a couple of teachers and they were really interested in it, and gave me the motivation to push through with it.”
Ms Hack said she had only meaningfully considered the dangers of gambling while doing research for class.
The statistics shocked her.
“I saw how much it would affect people in my class, and when you research it it opens your eyes further,” she said.
“You start to notice it everywhere, you see the ads on TV a lot and you can see they’re children-based ads.
“For my age group I see it a lot.”
Around six per cent of Victorian adults – about 300,000 people – are harmed by someone else’s gambling.
Ms Hack’s petition is calling on the state government to ban all gambling advertisements on free-to-air and prime-time television.
“In school, it’s been a really positive response, a lot of the students are happy with it and come up and ask me about it. It’s been opening their eyes as well,” Ms Hack said.
“Gambling is highly addictive – I see it in the same category of cigarettes and alcohol which we can’t advertise . . . but gambling flows under the radar.
“With the advertising, it sets off younger generations in the future to think it’s fun, that’s what the TV says, I won’t lose.”
So far, the majority of staff and more than half the cohort of students at the Mooroopna campus have signed the petition.
Now, Ms Hack wants her petition to go all the way to state parliament.
“With the help of my teacher, we thought, why don’t we send an email to Suzanna Sheed because she’s our representative,” she said.
“So we did – we wrote up a letter and I sent it off in email, and she responded – she was very nice about it.
“She said if you get the signatures I’m more than happy to take it to parliament.”
Legally, petitions require 10,000 valid signatures to be presented to parliament.
The signatures must be hand-signed.
“It would be really exciting to see it go all the way,” Ms Hack said.
“At the moment we passed it through all our home groups and it’s just in the school but we’re hoping to spread it across locations in Shepparton.”
If local businesses are willing to display Ms Hack’s petition, email GSSC at [email protected]