Australian PI&CPC experience

(Public Information and Co-operation with the Professional Community)

Our shared experience at the Melbourne PI & CPC Forum 2009

Don’t hesitate, communicate.

The challenge with most PI&CPC work is to make contact & engage the right person, making sure that we deliver what we promise, & not bring AA into disrepute. Remember, we are invited guests.

Read the AA Guidelines to find out more

Share your experience with other members, hold workshops on how to do it.

Keep on trying – things don’t always succeed the first time. on” and be persistent.
Put lots of  energy into phone calls & personal contact.
Don’t forget our Class A trustees, that’s what they are there for.

What worked when we tried it?

  • The school nurse, social worker or counsellor seems to be the best contact point for Schools. Ask which avenue of approach we should take & fit in with their agenda, as schools have their own guidelines to follow.
  • Explain that we don’t represent AA, we are just members of AA.
  • Try to minimise the age gap between members & students. Wear “hip” clothes.
  • Explain to the students that we are not counsellors, teachers, or health professionals. We are there to share our experience, strength, & hope.
  • Always have information for the students to take away including Al-Anon literature. There is usually someone in the family affected by alcohol. Offer a Big Book for their Library & literature –“AA for Teenagers”-“Too Young”. Show a video,” Rap with me”(available from NOAA)
  • Have an ask it basket for the students to ask questions, in case they are too embarrassed in front of their peers
  • If we send the letter from the PI guide Book, always include a stamped self-addressed envelope if we expect a reply. Letters can be adopted for your own Area.
  • Try to include a recommendation from another school. Once we have been successful with a school, ask if they will write a recommendation or reference to pass onto the next school.
  • Set up a roster system on Google Docs & give the School access to the document. This way they know who will be attending & feel part of.
  • Ask the students for written feedback.
  • Try TAFE’s for Drug & Alcohol students. AA is usually welcome for their course structure.
  • Have a diverse mixture of backgrounds if possible, as well as male & female speakers
  • The same applies to University’s offering medical courses

What didn’t work when we tried it?

  • Always remember that schools have their own systems in place & they do it their way. We do not tell what to do. Our job is to fit in with them.
  • Members with a criminal record for any sex related offences would not be allowed into schools. A police check may be necessary.
  • Don’t try to contact the Headmaster directly,
  • Keep it simple! Don’t use big words, bad language, or AA jargon.

If they don’t wish to engage AA speakers, offer some literature, & a contact point for the future.

Don’t allow the teacher to leave the room. We should never be left alone with the students.


What worked when we tried it?

  • Call national Office to find out what materials are available for the mass media.
  • Australian television & radio stations are required to air a certain amount of free community announcements
  • Ring the TV station & ask to speak to the production manager. This may result in an interview with the production manager.
  • Have a plan. We need to be precise.  Explain who we are & who are our target audience. How long & what time slot.
  • Necessary requirements are willing members, persistence & commitment.
  • Try free to air (government and commercial) and pay TV as well


  • Ask the groups if they have any contacts. There is usually a member somewhere who works in the field & can advise what is needed.
  • Ring the station & speak to the production manager, explain who we are.
  • Alternatively email the announcement to the station. The announcements are in MP3 format, so this is easily achieved. Ask if the quality is good enough for a Community Service Announcement? This usually opens the door for us. The radio station can then use the announcements.
  • The announcements can be used in this format & are a high quality
  • Radio stations will usually only allow 30 second CSA’s
  • Try talkback radio for a radio interview.  Be aware that the interview may turn into the presenter asking for opinions on outside issues such as Alco pops. Make it clear that we can only share our experience, strength  & hope.


  • Find out whom the features editor is, alternatively, when a story is featured about alcoholism contact the journalist involved.
  • Collect stories from members
  • Keep any photos the journalist takes for future articles
  • Send a letter with a member’s story, remembering that the newspaper will probably edit the story to suit his or her own needs.
  • Local Rags have a community section, which is free of charge. They usually allow 6 weeks display time. Contact the editor.
  • The Group District or Area can fund a paid advertisement in the Public Notices Section of the Newspaper.
  • When dealing with the Media, Press Radio & TV always send the AA Anonymity Statement to them.
    Conference Approved community service announcements are available from National Office
    Always follow up with thank you letters


What worked when we tried it?

  • Each member tells their doctor that they are sober through Alcoholic Anonymous
  • The responses received seemed to suggest that the Doctor’s Nurse or receptionist was the best point of contact & that building a repour with the particular Doctor’s Surgery Nurse was the best solution. One District uses the following method with the Receptionist“Hello I’m so & so, & I’m from Alcoholics Anonymous,.I just happened to be in the area. We are a voluntary organisation, do you mind if I leave some literature? How many Doctors do you have in this practise? (Leave the appropriate amount of literature for the Doctors) When we’re back in the area someone will call in to check your supplies, it may not be me”.
  • Find out if the Doctor has a practise meeting where we may be able to do an AA presentation.
  • All Doctors have ongoing training, either through the AMA or the Medical Schools within the Hospitals. Make contact & offer to do a presentation if they are interested. Nurses also have in service programs through the School of Nursing within each hospital.
  • Offer the PI Posters for display on their notice boards. Make sure the local AA contact number is visible. Offer the local magazine for reading in the waiting areas, & other pamphlets such as AA at a glance, & the 12 questions for their display rack. It is also handy to have business cards made with the local contact & an AA slogan
  • This is a particularly good way for individual groups to become involved in District by helping to finance the project. Always follow up the contact to see if they need more literature, etc. Most Doctors are appreciative of AA contact & especially need meeting lists
  • Always follow up your contact.

What didn’t work when we tried it?

  • Sending letters & hoping for a response. Doctors are very busy, and most mail goes through their nurse or receptionist. Her job is to make sure that the Doctor does not receive unsolicited mail.
  • Trying to organise PI functions out of business hours.
  • Arguing our personal beliefs about alcoholism, or any other medical treatment available


Public information meetings:
These seem to most successful when held in the lead up or during “Drug Action Week”. This is the one time during the year where each organisation has the same agenda. It is the time when TV Radio, Press, Schools Doctors, Institutions etc. have the same focus. It is the time that we will have the most success, & services can be utilised to ensure that our PI Meeting is well attended. This week can be used to involve all the media. Have a plan & willing committed members..

  • Start 12 months before the event & invite a dignitary or the Mayor to open the meting. The Press are usually obligated to attend.
    Three months before, invite members of Parliament to attend. As this week is a government event, there will be more success with attendees.
    1month before invite drug & Alcohol Counsellors from the health departments
  • Invite a high profile friend of AA to share.
  • Ask AA members to share their experience strength & hope with the focus on recovery.
  • Ask the media to do free community service announcements for this event.
  • Advise Radio & TV stations about the event & who is attending, the higher the profile the greater the interest. They will usually interview AA members: talk about the PI event & tell a bit of your story.


PI Dinners

  • Our experience suggests that more intimate gatherings appear to be most successful.
  • Host a small luncheon in the venue where the professional work. Keep the menu simple & the speakers engaging & short.
    Where meeting are held in hospitals, invite the Nurses & Doctors & have a health Professional friend of AA speak about AA. Ask 1 or 2 members to share.
  • Use the PI Planner for more ideas about who to approach for a luncheon
  • Always follow up with thank you letters

What didn’t work when we tried it?

Hosting Public Information meetings, or dinners, which seem to attract few members of the public & a large number of AA members. Think outside the square.


  • What worked when we tried it?
    This seems to vary from location to location, depending on the needs of a particular area. And also varies with particular Magistrates.
  • Usually, the court social workers & court volunteers are the best contact.
  • Offering AA literature such as the 12 questions, for their literature display racks is the first step, with follow up to make sure they a well stocked.
  • Contacting the Parole Board is another solution to bring the AA message to people whose offences have involved alcohol.
  • Drug & Alcohol Courts are more favourable to AA as a solution. Locations can be found on the web.
  • If we are successful & the particular Magistrates send the offender to AA, this can pose another problem for AA if the Magistrate requires proof of AA attendance.
    One suggestion is to produce attendance slips with the Group name, which the Magistrate can hand to offenders. This can then be stamped with a stamp, which has been made with the AA Logo or something similar.

What didn’t work when we tried it?

  • Trying to contact the Magistrate, with the expectation that he or she will send offenders to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Shops and shopping centres:

  • Some of the larger supermarkets have a community notice board where we can display the PI Posters or notices with tear off sections featuring the local AA number.
  • Approach Centre Management and ask if AA can have a stall. Explain who we are. Enlist the time of a few AA members to man the stall and have literature & meeting lists available.

Pubs & clubs:

As part of their responsible approach to serving alcohol, most pubs & clubs are happy to display the PI posters.

Most Police Stations are happy to put AA literature in their display racks. Meetings books & contact numbers are very important. The police can then give them to members of the public as they see fit. Approach whoever is on duty in your local Police Station.

  • One District had business cards printed with the local AA contact number & the Police agreed to put them in the pockets of offenders.

Local Government

  • Most councils have a community website featuring drug & alcohol resources. Most have an online form. Fill it in & your meeting or local contact point will then be displayed on their website. This is free of charge.

Road sign displays

  • Road Signs are available from National Office.
  • Check with your local council, they will advise you whom to contact. It may be Rotary or similar organisation who administers these signs. These are the one most frequently found on the highway on the way into a township.
  • The organisation responsible for displaying these signs will usually ask to see the sign, to see if the space is available.

Council festivals

  • Most council’s have an annual festival. Check their local website for details. This is another opportunity for AA members to give some time by setting up a display stand with information about Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as literature. A District in the Southern Region has done this quite successfully for a few years now. Pictures are available on the service website.

Library displays

  • Check with your local Library
  • Some libraries have their own section for displaying community literature. Others a happy to display an AA display box.  An example of a library display is available on the service website
  • Keep the Display light if it is to go from Library to Library. Keep in mind Occupational Health & Safety Regulations for Library workers who may be required to move the Display. Book into each library and get the members to share the load.
  • Keep it Professional Looking.
  • Consider a digital picture frame with pictures of AA literature running through it.

AA Stickers & Business Cards:

  • Keep it simple, such as; is alcohol costing you more than money. AA may be able to help & a contact number. The stickers can be stuck anywhere-rubbish bins, bus shelters etc. An example is available on the service website.


AA Resources:                      

PI Planner
PI Workbook
AA Guidelines
The AA Traditions, & Concepts
Older Sober Members
Conference Delegates
Service Sponsor
National Office
Meeting lists
PI newsletters
Conference approved Literature.

PI Resources:

Bus, Train and Tram advertising
Bathroom advertising (Back of loo doors etc)
Shopping Centres
Pubs & Clubs
Social Workers
Drink Driving
Display stands