CUP RUNNETH OVER

THE CEL­E­BRA­TION THAT COMES WITH THE RACE THAT STOPS A NA­TION MASKS A SO­CIAL IS­SUE THAT IS DE­STROY­ING FAM­I­LIES AND EVEN LIVES

Life & Style Weekend - - MIND - MIND YOU WORDS: NICK BEN­NETT Nick Ben­nett is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, per­for­mance coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: www.mind­saligned.com.au

Ever since com­ing to live in Aus­tralia I have found it in­trigu­ing how im­por­tant the Mel­bourne Cup is for so many Aussies. It is a day of frocks, frills, fas­ci­na­tors and fizz for those who like to be in­volved. Lunches, pic­nics, af­ter­noon teas or canapes and cock­tails take place, of­ten nowhere near a race­course. It is a won­der­ful day to so­cialise. This can in­clude net­work­ing in the cor­po­rate mar­quees or a catch-up with friends. It is a great op­por­tu­nity to wear that spe­cial out­fit that rarely sees the light of day the rest of the year. But it’s not for ev­ery­one and the thought of the crowds, the drink­ing, the bet­ting and other shenani­gans that are all part and par­cel of the event can of­ten be enough to put some off, me in­cluded. Af­ter the build-up it is quickly over: some may con­tinue to cel­e­brate and oth­ers may drown their sor­rows. I won­der who ac­tu­ally ben­e­fits from the race that stops the na­tion. We have made heroes of the horses, jock­eys and own­ers and de­fined their his­tory in the mythol­ogy of the na­tion. That’s fine. How­ever, the down­side is that we re­in­force an in­cred­i­bly in­sid­i­ous be­hav­iour that costs the na­tion, com­pa­nies, in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies not only bil­lions of dol­lars but de­stroys re­la­tion­ships and ca­reers and un­doubt­edly con­trib­utes to the high sui­cide rate that we have in Aus­tralia. When I turn on the tele­vi­sion and see ad­ver­tise­ments for gam­bling in­cluded among the sport­ing pro­grams and early news – ads that are seen by our chil­dren – I am very con­cerned about the lack of stan­dards or the sim­ple ac­cep­tance that this is the way to live life. Th­ese ads nor­malise a quick bet as a good thing, and set­ting up a gam­bling ac­count is the way to go. About one in six Aus­tralians who play reg­u­larly have a se­ri­ous ad­dic­tion and lose on av­er­age about $21,000 a year, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment data. The so­cial cost of gam­bling to the com­mu­nity was es­ti­mated in Septem­ber last year to be at least $4.7 bil­lion a year. En­joy the race, by all means, and the so­cial fun that comes with it. How­ever, keep in mind that the cel­e­bra­tion hides a se­ri­ous so­cial is­sue that costs us all, and if we en­cour­age or nor­malise this in our kids we cre­ate an even larger prob­lem that no one is tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for. Tough gig isn’t it.

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