The Melbourne Cup has a long-standing tradition as being a day of great fun. It’s a time where punters can go out and try their luck on the horses and get dressed up for a day out in the sun.
Maybe they got a good tip from Josh in the office.
Maybe, like me, they enjoy any excuse for a public holiday and don’t really care about the race, but are going to enjoy the race anyway and share a few beers with friends. They put a small tip on a horse with a name they like because they don’t know anything about horse racing. Either way it usually ends up being a pretty great day for most.
However, I can’t help but notice all the things that we as a nation choose to ignore as if we’re figuratively sweeping our most community and family destroying issues under the rug.
A rug that is so overwhelmed that it’s beginning to look more like a year 6 art project than something that really ties the room together between the couch and the drapes.
Now before I get on my proverbial high horse (Sorry, not sorry) I would like to explain I’m not calling for a ban on any of these issues, I just can’t help but notice and feel uncomfortable at the idea that we, as a majority, collectively choose to ignore the vicious underbelly of the Melbourne Cup in preference of having a great day.
We are only one year removed from 2015 Melbourne Cup favourite Admiral Rakti’s painful death in the stalls after last years race. In that same race, Araldo was supposedly scared by a flag on his way back to the stalls and broke his leg, which led to him being euthanised. It’s a day where racegoers get themselves a car park or hit the bar for some fine champagne, only to showcase Australia’s not so fantastic drinking culture and bring up that maybe there’s is a problem with our relationship with alcohol.
Worse yet, Josh from the office who gave you that good tip on the race is in some serious financial trouble due to a gambling problem.
With the (temporary) NSW ban on the Greyhound racing industry, the conversation has started for other animal racing industries see similar conversations gain more traction. Granted, it is a conversation that is had every year. But now there’s been action taken on a racing industry that had proven to be cruel to the animals, yet the weight of consumer demand forced the ban to be reversed.
How many more horses will have to die in Cup racing before we consider it unusually cruel and unfair? Does the Greyhound reversal mean that any practical change is as hopeless as my future as a potential jockey?
Animal rights aside are unfortunately placed to the side to another big mess as one of our most celebrated days is centered around the gambling industry.
Here are some facts;
Problem gamblers lose around $21,000 each year.
Australians spent more than $19 billion on gambling in 2008-09; around $12 billion of which was spent playing the pokies.
Some people can experience significant harm from gambling. Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers.
The actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others. Only around 15 per cent of problem gamblers seek help.
Problem gamblers are six times more likely to be divorced than non-problem gamblers
Problem gamblers are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times as likely to smoke daily than non-problem gamblers
Children with parents who are problem gamblers are up to 10 times more likely to become problem gamblers themselves than children with non-gambling parents
These are just a few of the plethora of problems around the gambling industry, not to mention the social cost of gambling which is expected to be around $4.7 billion every year. These are the flow on effects of problem gambling, like money spent on health care for problem gamblers i.e smoking costs, counselling etc. Most Australian’s do enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment responsibly but would it be ok to use this day as an opportunity for education and possibly reform on a community issue that can and has ruined the lives of many Australians? Can’t the same be said for alcohol?
Australia’s relationship with alcohol is precarious at best, and I’ve been literally surrounded by it my entire adult life. Alcohol can and has ruin lives, it’s just a fact, and people of all ages might need to rethink their relationship with alcohol.
Why not use this day where everyone is meant to have fun and enjoy themselves, as a platform for education and reform on community issues, to ensure that as many people as possible can actually enjoy themselves and have fun, without ignoring some of the issues we have as a community.
I would never want to ban the cup or anything as drastic as that, I love cup day and enjoy a punt myself, but there’s no denying the responsibility we should all have in being aware of the problems surrounding the day. No good has ever come from ignoring a problem and hoping it goes away.
It is hard to imagine any actual reform being done at a government level considering the enormous amount of revenue that is generated for them through particularly the gambling industry. If it's going to happen, we the people have to care about it first.
Have fun, drink responsibly, have a punt, but try and consider the context in which you celebrate your day off. Alright this saddle has been high enough for the day it’s time for me to step down.
If anyone has a good tip for me tomorrow then feel free, otherwise ill be placing 5 on the horse with the name that has some vague reference to something that happened one time in my life, because that’s what everyone does right?
$5 on Who Shot TheBarman coming right up.
If you or anyone you know may be at risk, here are some additional links and phone numbers to help or a friend.
- DrugInfo : 1300 858 584.
- Family Drug Helpline : 1300 660 068.
- Youth Substance Abuse Service : 1800 014 446.
- Counselling Online : 1800 888 236.
- Kids Helpline : 1800 551 800.
- Parentline : 1300 301 300.
- Lifeline : 131114.
Real life Bond villain Eddie Goldsmith has a passion for photography, movies, basketball and speaking in third person. Like most other sleep deprived 20-somethings Eddie's managed to find a balance between calm and collected to being one coffee cup away from never sleeping again. Writer, Editor, Generous Lover, Photographer and part time funny man I'm always looking to try my hand at something new.