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He pātai mo Simone Rodda

A Q&A with Keynote Speaker Simone Rodda.

#1 Tell us about where you grew up and what you loved about that time of your life?

Grew up in Geelong about 80km from Melbourne and near the great ocean road with summer spent down the coast. My parents had trotters (harness racing horses) and I lived on a farm for a while. The thing I most loved was my pony.

#2 Has your research affected your view of gambling harm?

Gambling harm is pretty similar across people, cultures and countries but when you talk to people one on one individual journeys into the problem and out of it are unique.

#3 How did the decision to specialize in Psychology and Addiction Studies come about?

I’ve had quite different careers. I worked in marketing and sales for around ten years then studied to become an addictions counsellor. My first counselling job was in smoking cessation then as a gambling counsellor for the Salvation Army Australia. I started working with the national gambling, alcohol and drug helplines and eventually became a manager. My last job there was setting up the national online counselling service Gambling Help Online. I had a couple of goes at a PhD and the one that stuck investigated the effectiveness of online counselling. During this i discovered I really liked research and once I graduated moved to NZ in 2014 and started work as an academic at AUT.

#4 What do you enjoy about your career thus far?

I think I’m both an introvert and extravert so working as an academic is great. I love days of silence spent writing and reflecting and then other days getting swept up in the busyness of teaching and talking with students, research participants and other scholars.

#5 What are some of the challenges you have faced throughout your career?

One of the biggest challenges has been dealing with negative attitudes towards gambling and people who gamble. I have felt that from clinicians, researchers, policy makers and people who gamble. When we tag gambling as bad it often leads to thinking about people who gamble in a similar way. As a scientist we should be impartial and not have strong views one way or the other – the data should speak for itself.

Unfortunately there seems to be a shift away from evidence and more to single person views. This is unfortunate because it negates the views of hundreds and thousands of people who have given their time to quantitative and qualitative research. We need to find better ways of communicating science of gambling and that using a systematic approach to understanding personal experience is going to result in information that we can trust.

#6 What do you think were some of the personal challenges you faced as you started your academic career?

When i did my first research project in gambling in 2000 there were no electronic journals and there was no funding for gambling research. I remember having to ask a government body for permission to access paper journals in their library. Now there are a lot of people studying gambling and there is funding all over the world. But it often feels like the field hasn’t really moved on and we keep asking the same questions only to get the same answers.

Being able to learn the rules of academic writing and being an academic while at the same time enhancing my ideas and being an independent thinker. As someone who likes to play outside the square it was tough to understand that just like any other area or work, hobby or sport academia has rules that you have to learn and understand. It is only then you can challenge, stretch and build on these rules. For example, academic writing has a particular style just like creative writing or non-fiction writing has their own styles.

#7 If you could have the audience, take one thing away from your presentation at the IGC, what would it be?

We need to be more focused on understanding and how to support people in their recovery and building responsive options that people actually want and need. We need to move away from a paternalistic approach of telling people what they should do.

#8 What are you looking forward to most at the conference?

Meeting new people and catching up with old friends.

#9 If there was a story that showed “why” you do what you do today, what would that story be?

I like to solve puzzles and there are many unanswered questions in gambling research!

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