Many lawyers will relate to Talitha Cummins’ story. The former Channel Seven newsreader graced Australian screens for 16 years, but behind the shiny façade she was hiding a dark secret: she was downing up to three bottles of wine alone each night. Cummins exposed her addiction in a telling interview with the ABC’s Australian Story in 2016 and will be speaking at an upcoming breakfast event at the Law Society in August.
My first drink was an innocent affair; in a park, before a school dance with friends and alcohol stolen from our parents. I still remember that first taste. It was like the world lit up. The shy, introverted Talitha became the confident, outspoken person she dreamed of.
Broadcast journalism appeared a strange career choice for a shy girl like me. But my natural curiosity and love of crime drew me towards the industry. It wasn’t until my first day of work that I realised what was ahead of me. I was sent to cover a press conference with then Prime Minister John Howard. I clutched the microphone tightly as my hands shook and managed to squeeze out a question, my head spinning. It was the first time I realised anxiety was going to play a significant role in what I’d chosen as a very public career. Alcohol became my nightly release.
I don’t know whether it happened gradually or very quickly. What I do know is that I reached a point where I was going home to drink multiple bottles every night. And when you’re drinking that much, the embarrassing incidents begin to pile up. Among the most shameful were being carried out of a media awards dinner and being hospitalised several times.