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MIT PR students tackle gambling issues in NZ

Friday, 1 September 2006

MIT PR students tackle gambling issues in New Zealand

Cambodian student Ratanak Sor is working with the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand to address problem gambling in his ethnic group, providing the foundation with the first opportunity to work with this community.

“Ratanak is helping us make contacts in the Cambodian community in New Zealand,” says Problem Gambling Foundation communications officer Phillipa Reddy.

“Gambling is a problem among many migrant communities. People often resort to gambling as a means of escape from feelings of loneliness, especially since pokie machines are readily available 24 hours a day.”

Mount Wellington resident Ratanak got involved with the foundation as part of his second-year public relations practical project at MIT. A group of Bachelor of Applied Communication students provided valuable and fresh perspectives on how gambling issues can be handled when they developed public relations plans for the foundation, as part of the practical requirement of their course.

Along with fellow students, MIT employee and Papakura resident Sandra Rowe, East Tamaki resident Manuel Potoru and Palwinder Rehal of Papatoetoe, Ratanak achieved Student’s Initiative Awards from the foundation in recognition of the high quality and originality of their ideas.

And now the foundation plans to incorporate some of the students’ ideas into future PR strategies, says communications officer Phillipa Reddy, adding that she has invited a number of the MIT students to participate in future promotions with the organisation.

“The PR plans the MIT students presented were wonderful and proved that it is always good to get an injection of fresh ideas.”

Sandra targeted youth in her project, while Manuel and Palwinder focused on the Pacific and Indian communities respectively.

This recognition is a significant achievement for the students, says MIT public relations lecturer Graeme Sterne. “This project has given the students a chance to work with a real organisation and opened opportunities for some of the students to gain ongoing work experience.”

Working with the foundation was also a chance for the students to apply their talents to a worthy cause, says Graeme.

Last year New Zealanders lost $2.027 billion through all forms of gambling, of which $1.027 billion was lost on non-casino pokie machines, says Phillipa.

“Pokies were the primary mode of gambling for 81% of clients with over 60% of problem gamblers living in low socio-economic areas, which can afford these losses the least.”

Gamble Free Day on Friday, 1 September aims to raise public awareness and knowledge of gambling harm to New Zealand society and will be marked with a number of activities around the country on the day. More information on the Problem Gambling Foundation’s activities can be found on

For more information on MIT’s Bachelor of Applied Communication degree and other Communication Studies programmes contact the institute on 0800 62 62 52, or visit


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