The Wheeler Centre
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The Big Dry: Alcohol and Us
In our backyards, balconies and beer gardens – Australians get along famously with booze. Drinking is an entrenched part of our national identity: it’s a recurrent theme in our pop culture, a scene-setter for friendship, a supposedly inherent part of work and play.
Lately, though, as the personal, social and public health costs of drinking become clear, many Australians are reconsidering our indulgent traditions. Some have even suggested that alcohol will go the way of the cigarette once its connection to chronic or life-threatening illnesses is fully acknowledged.
Jill Stark is the author of High Sobriety: My Year Without Booze. As an Age reporter, she’s written extensively about the escalating toll of alcohol abuse in Australia. Writer Jenny Valentish’s book, Woman of Substances, tells her own story (as well as those found in rehab facilities, halfway houses and AA groups), as she explored the paths people take into and out of addiction. In the process, she’s discovered that women’s experiences of substance abuse and treatment differ greatly from those of men.
Along with Chris Raine – founder of Hello Sunday Morning, an online initiative aiming to refocus drinking behaviour on individual choice, rather than cultural expectation – and host Jacinta Parsons, they join us for a fresh discussion about Australia’s changing relationship with alcohol, and how we can anticipate and deal with the side effects.