Friday, 10 October 2008

Let's Blame The Fresh Food People

Safeway / Woolworths are advertised as The Fresh Food People. This implies that the Woolworths' organisation is made of people who care enough about their cutomers to not just bring you food but to bring you 'fresh' food.

Contrast this with the response of the associated Safeway/Woolworths pub management in Victoria to a brutal bashing resulting in death at their QBH Hotel in Melbourne.
We're Not To Blame!
I had the privilege to be interviewed yesterday for an article to be published in a forthcoming issue of BRW. In so many words, I was asked why I was concerned about Woolies management of pokie pubs and clubs. My response was that, in my opinion, they do not manage their associated pokie venues in a way that will minimise the harm caused by problem gambling. That standard of care is the main objective of the pokie regulation laws.

This sweeping statement made me think about why I feel that way. A program that aired on the ABC last night confirmed what bothers me.

It was a segment on how pokies are configured to keep people playing. Have a look at the program. It's the first segment. There's a lot about mechanical configurations that I was unaware of but I was more interested in the sub-story about how a woman lost $350,000 at one venue.

The venue was the Skyways Taverner Hotel controlled by Woolworths.

This woman's story is an example. If she lost that much money at one venue she must have been a regular and a regular loser. The venue staff should have gently tapped her on the shoulder somehow telling her to 'cool off'. The woman even talked about her 'lucky car space' that she used.

Put another way, there is no human concern. And that's irresponsible.

I have seen clear signs of problem gambling being ignored.

At one Safeway / Woolies pub there is a sign prohibiting the playing of two machines at once. For good reason. Yet, at another Safeway / Woolies venue right in front of the service bar with two staff looking right at her, I observed a woman playing two machines at one time. No doubt there will be a "We're Not To Blame" excuse from Safeway/Woolies as they would have to go beyond the system's technical rules to truly help people.

This might explain my concern about how responsibility is abandoned when you consider The Fresh Food People luring children into their pokie pubs.


In April 2007, The Age in Melbourne wrote about the Skyways "One of the state's most profitable venues, Skyways Taverner in Airport West, claimed $1.9 million in community benefits but did not make any gifts, donations or community sponsorships."

This is from Safeway / Woolworths, the company that likely spent more on a recent billboard campaign to promote their community sponsorships than the $4,000 spent on the sponsorship itself.

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