Beer-loving Australians asked to run dry for charity

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Forget the water drought. Beer-loving Australians are being challenged to cut out alcohol for the whole month of October to raise money for charity.

The “Ocsober” challenge asks drinkers to go without beer, wine and spirits to raise money for a non-profit organization which provides drug and alcohol counseling to school children.

“We’re doing this to raise awareness and to raise money,” the national project’s manager, Shauna Round, told Reuters.

“This is our first year running Ocsober so we are hoping to really go for it,” she added.

Participants raise money through sponsorship but while similar keep-sober programs exist, “Ocsober” offers a get-out clause where they can buy a “leave pass” to drink for special occasions.

So far, 400 people have signed for the program, raising about 30,000 Australian dollars ($23,700).

Australians are renowned as being some of the world’s biggest beer drinkers with official figures showing around 3,000 people dying annually as a result of some form of alcohol-related disease. The country is also a major wine producer.

Reporting by Pauline Askin, Editing by Miral Fahmy