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[WATCH] €1.5 million project targets gambling addiction and child exclusion

Funds are being allocated towards addicts and the inclusion of children as 'gaming can lead to alcohol, domestic violence and theft when it becomes problematic', says Silvio Schembri

Denise Grech
12 September 2017, 4:48pm
Last updated on 12 September 2017, 4:51pm
'The reality of internet addiction cannot be ignored', said parliamentary Secretary for financial services and innovation Silvio Schembri. (Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday)
'The reality of internet addiction cannot be ignored', said parliamentary Secretary for financial services and innovation Silvio Schembri. (Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday)
€1.5 million project targets gambling addiction and child exclusion
European Union social funds will be used to finance two separate projects, one aimed at improving child inclusion and the other to help gambling and gaming addicts.

€1 million will go towards supporting gambling addicts whilst €500,000 will go towards the ‘Star Kids’ project which focuses on enhancing children's inclusion in schools by providing relevant and practical ICT skills.

The initiatives were launched by parliamentary secretaries Aaron Farrugia and Silvio Schembri.

"Gaming can lead to alcohol, domestic violence and theft when it becomes problematic," Schembri said, on the scheme targeting gambling addicts. “The reality of internet addiction cannot be ignored.”

With this in mind, the project accompanies training by the faculty for social well-being, which seeks to strengthen a helpline that targets 500 gaming addicts.

Despite the state encouraging an influx of gaming companies, Schembri believes that gambling and gaming addiction can be controlled. “Online gaming companies in Malta work internationally. We cannot stop people from accessing online gaming sites, we can only educate them.”

"I believe all children should have a fair start," Farrugia said on the Star project. "Children need to be able to show their capabilities to make it after we provide them a sure start to succeed."

Targeting 850 children aged 3-17, the initiative looks at minors at risk of poverty and exclusion, either residing in the community or in residential care.

The project will kick off with a study on the gaps that currently exist within this vulnerable population and ICT skills, installing the relevant ICT tools in residential homes and youth centres at a later stage. 

It will then continue to deliver training over a one-year period.  Parents or caregivers will also be brought on board to support children's participation.  A study will also be undertaken to assess the results of the project in order to contribute towards future interventions.

The project is spearheaded by the Malta Communications Authority and aided by ministry for social solidarity, the Foundation for Social Wellbeing and the commissioner for children.