IN what appears to be a David versus Goliath battle, the community of the City of Whittlesea is taking on the gambling industry.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) appeal to install 40 poker machines is still running and community members are being encouraged to join the fight to keep poker machines out of the district.
Local community agencies, including Hume Whittlesea Primary Care Partnerships, Whittlesea Community Connections, the Salvation Army Crossroads and the Brotherhood of St Laurence, have joined together with more than a 100 community members and the Whittlesea Interagency Taskforce on Gambling to oppose the application by Woolworths majority-held subsidiary Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH) Group.
Whittlesea resident Chandana Rao told the Whittlesea Review that community opposition could be fundamental in achieving a positive outcome.
“People recognise the harm that is being caused, probably not the true effect of the harm, but they do get it and people do not want the pokies there,” she said.
“I feel it’s not a fair thing, the gambling sector is gaining and the community is losing. The industry is powerful, very powerful.
“It’s been a tough battle but I am hopeful that the Commercial Hotel will remain pokie machine free, not just for Whittlesea but for this attempt to stop the industry getting more powerful.