The Problem Gambling Foundation is vowing ''we won't go
silent'', following a decision to award the majority of
services to the Salvation Army.
Yesterday, the foundation confirmed the loss of of Ministry
of Health funding. The majority of services will be provided
by the Salvation Army's Oasis service from June 30.
Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey told the Otago Daily
Times he was ''gutted, absolutely gutted; it is fair to say
the board is dumbfounded by the decision''.
The ministry would discuss a contract for 11 fulltime
positions for the foundation, which currently employs 63
The ministry confirmed its decision not to renew its national
contract with the PGF, saying it was part of a review of
While the review was ongoing, the changes it would implement
would result in a ''significant increase in front-line staff
for the same level of investment''.
''The ministry is confident that people experiencing gambling
harm as a result of their own or someone else's gambling will
be able to continue to access regional and national services
to help them, both now and in the future,'' it said in a
''When the negotiations are complete, the ministry will be in
a better position to comment.''
The tender process for the new contracts was ''an open
contestable tender process'', which was overseen by
consultants from PricewaterhouseCoopers, it said.
However, Mr Ramsey said there was a chance the decision could
''We are not dead yet and we won't go silent,'' he said.
Labour's Trevor Mallard and the Green Party's Denise Roche
claimed the foundation was silenced for speaking out about
the SkyCity convention centre deal.
However, that was rejected by Associate Health Minister Peter
Dunne, who said any claim the foundation was silenced
''because of its opposition to particular government policies
is patent nonsense''.
He pointed out that the Salvation Army opposed the SkyCity
deal, and ''I see no reason why this should prevent them from
being contracted to provide the excellent services that they
Mr Ramsey said people would draw their own conclusions.
''Essentially, this is going to silence us, as a voice
against the harm of gambling.''
A gambling industry source said there had been industry
disquiet with the Problem Gambling Foundation for many years,
particularly the perceived links between the foundation and
Labour and the Greens.
He alleged that increasing political focus led to the recent
resignation of a senior Wellington-based research director.
Mr Dunne said the Ministry of Health signalled in 2012 it
would be going to the market for the provision of gambling
harm minimisation services.
The evaluation panel deciding on the tender included staff
from the Ministries of Health and Internal Affairs. A
spokeswoman for SkyCity said it would not be commenting on
- Additional reporting APNZ