Sober in the Country (SITC) began as one outback volunteer's near-death experience as an ‘’invisible alcoholic’’ who was so high-functioning that she was literally dying in front of her own friends and nobody even realised.
This woman is founder and now CEO Shanna Whan.
It was her near-death experience, recovery, and complete inability to access help or support in the process that would inspire her to spend five years volunteering to support others in the rural demographic just like her who could not - and still cannot - get help: working rural men and women constantly dismissed by society, health professionals, and friends as needing support because they appear, superficially, to be ‘’okay’’ ...
Shanna reached others and consistently broke down one of Australia’s most complex and fragile conversations nationally through nothing more than honesty, humour, hard slog, and an utterly fierce determination to help others.For her efforts she was an AgriFutures NSW/ACT Rural Woman of the Year finalist in 2018; a finalist in the Harvey Norman ‘’Shine’’ Awards in 2019, and, recently she’s also been nominated for Regional Woman of the Year for New South Wales.
Shanna’s philosophy is that awards and accolades - while appreciated and a great honour - will only ever really mean something for her when policy change happens from the top and when the gap is acknowledged with the full weight it deserves to a largely invisible demographic who are slipping through the cracks at an unacceptable rate.
She has a firm belief that we must focus on ‘’sustainable people’’ just as we focus on ‘’sustainable agricultural systems’’ and that the future of Australia literally lies within ensuring the skilled rural men and women who live remotely and work either directly or in associated food and fibre production are adequately cared for as global food production, climate, and other challenges continue to change the face of Australia.
In late 2019, SITC was granted official charity status by the ACNC and became Sober in the Country Ltd. Shanna was also featured on Australian Story. Click here to watch.