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What can I expect at an AA meeting in Melbourne?
There are different kinds of AA meetings to suit everyone.
- Closed. For alcoholics only (in institutions sometimes restricted to patients or inmates only). Usually these are informal discussions devoted to members’ problems and questions, the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, the Big Book, round-tables and dozens of other formats are used.
- Open. Anyone interested may attend. Open speaker meetings. These usually consist of a variety of members with a few who are called to speak by the meeting chairperson. The speakers describe in a general way what they were like when they were drinking, what happened to bring them to AA and what they are like now. The Big Book of AA describes this as “sharing”. Usually at meetings like this, groups prefer that the member has a little time of continuous sobriety (say, at least three months) before making a “talk”. Often at “identiﬁcation” meetings, where a dozen or so members are asked or volunteer to speak, no one asks how long a speaker has been sober. Most groups feel it is important to “balance” the program, making sure both men and women are heard, both newer members and older ones. In some localities an announcement about the importance of anonymity in the public media is read aloud. In many places, the presiding member known as the chairperson emphasises that ‘anything you hear at this meeting is the opinion of the speaker and does not reﬂect the AA opinion as a whole, since no one person speaks for AA.
There are a variety of AA meetings in Melbourne, Victoria to choose from including:
- Open discussion meetings are held in many places. At these, non-alcoholics may take part in the discussion with the approval of the group conscience.
- Public meetings. These are speaker-type meetings with emphasis on informing the non- alcoholic public about AA. Doctors, members of the clergy and public ofﬁcials are invited. Often a prominent guest speaker is heard in addition to AA members. The Public Information Folder from Central Office gives excellent suggestions for arranging such a meeting so that it best carries the message. Such a meeting is an excellent way to celebrate a group anniversary.
- Beginners. These are usually smaller, more intimate question-and-answer sessions to help newcomers. A guide for Leading Beginners’ Meetings is available from CSO
- Steps Meetings. Since the Steps are the basis of our recovery, many groups devote one meeting a week to a study of each Step in rotation, or perhaps two or three at a time. The leader shares a bit of his or her story or talks on the Step briefly, no more than ﬁve or ten minutes, and then throws the meeting open for discussion.