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WHAT ‘’IS’’ SOBER IN THE COUNTRY, EXACTLY?

A discussion and a rural-specific initiative around alcohol awareness.

Much like ''RUOK? Day'' is to mental health - SITC is changing how we discuss alcohol, and how we can better help our mates by simply being more inclusive and tolerant of those who don't or cannot drink.

THE BACK STORY:

After five years of entirely volunteer and service work via blogging her story (about almost dying from alcoholism) while independently doing what she could to help educate encourage hundreds upon hundreds of rural Australians to better understand the invisible face of alcoholism; Shanna Whan (CEO, Founder) saw the horrific gap in services and support for working rural men and women. She knew it was a job for an army and not just one recovered alcoholic.So; to get the ball rolling and to try raise the army: Shanna's mission became to call out these gaps, on behalf of those without a voice: to save lives and prevent death. Her favourite quote, by Desmond Tutu, sums it up: ‘’There comes a time when we need to stop pulling people out of the river after they’ve drowned; and go upstream and find out why they are falling in…’’

THAT is the role of SITC as it transitions into a national charity. We want to see services and support put in place in recognition of those people ''falling in'' who put their hands up and scream out that they are drowning but then, tragically, cannot access a life-raft no matter how loudly they call for help.

 

Our official mission statement as an ACNC-approved national charity organisation is in ''raising awareness around the gaps in support, services, and available treatments for rural and remote Australians when it comes to alcohol addiction, abuse, and misuse''.

 

Our mission and vision is a rural Australia where it's socially acceptable when somebody says 'no thanks' to a beer. We will continue seeking funding and support while:

  • generating conversation at a national rural level surrounding the prevention of alcohol related harm with a specific focus on eliminating any stigma surrounding the truth of ‘’casual alcoholism’’ in the rural working demographic

  • encouraging rural and regional Australians to take responsibility for themselves by taking responsibility for our own drinking culture by reaching out to friends and family and making it ‘’ok to say no’’ to alcohol

  • transition to an official exclusive member-based online platform for isolated peers and professionals who cannot access confidential local services or support to gather and chat promoting and supporting alcohol-awareness, education, and services so that people can readily access expert help when required

  • implementing programs that encourage people to access and provide assistance at an early stage, thereby reducing the risk of alcohol harm arising from difficult life situations or mental illness

  • coordinate an annual rural "Sober in the Country Day" during which Australians are encouraged to host a sober BBQ and discuss that it’s ‘okay to be alcohol free’ or go sober for the day to support a mate who can't drink

 

CAN WE HIRE SHANNA WHAN TO SPEAK AT AN EVENT?

Yes. This is a core focus of SITC’s: education via speaking, presenting, etc. Shanna Whan is booking up for 2020. She travels Australia and is a gifted and passionate presenter. Until 2019 this has been almost entirely a voluntary service. From 2020 onwards, speaker-fees will be sent back into the charity to contribute to a salary for Shanna and to go into other arms of the charity.

Visit ''BOOKINGS'' on website for testimonials or to book.

Or just email soberinthecountry@gmail.com.

Shanna has 15 years’ experience, and will be charging accordingly from now.

 

HOW CAN WE HELP / GET INVOLVED?

In time, SITC will be seeking volunteers in various capacities. However we are still in the set-up phase. For now, by FAR the best thing you can do to help is simply get involved in the discussion, share posts, and – of course – if you can spare a few bucks; we are in urgent need of capital. Donations are critical, and as yet, there has been no response from either state or federal government for support. Shanna Whan is still, essentially, a full time volunteer. However she now has some serious clout as a national spokesperson – and she will be calling upon corporates, philanthropists, and risk-takers to help her get the job done. You can donate via https://www.soberinthecountry.com.au/help

 

WHAT IS THE PRIVATE GROUP I’VE HEARD ABOUT?

In 2018 Shanna created a discussion page for rural professionals. An online community within which other professionals could gather, share, and speak without fear. Today it has over 500 members. To join – visit the website but be advised it is strictly for rural and remote professionals.

 

I AM A MEMBER: WHY IS THE RURAL SUPPORT PAGE BECOMING A ‘’PAID’’ GROUP?

Due to a quadrupling of requests to join the discussion - Shanna is working full-time on administration of this much-loved group and tribe. In the same way people who visit support groups in 'real time' are expected to ''kick the tin'' to keep the meeting afloat - the majority of members have agreed this is a service that's become invaluable, and will require ongoing massive commitments to keep it safe, secure, monitored, on track, and thriving. (Please note Shanna has spent her remaining life-savings and the past two years petitioning government to fund such an initiative or support these people - to no avail.)

 

WHERE WILL MEMBER PAYMENTS GO?

Straight into the registered national charity which will, of course, be regularly audited. These small contributions will collectively keep the group viable and focused on the core demographic of rural and remote peers who have no alternatives to reach out and safely discuss their drinking or their wish to cut back.

 

IS THE PRIVATE RURAL GROUP AN ACTUAL ‘’PROGRAMME’’?

No. It is a discussion page and nothing more. Upon joining members are clearly advised that what programme they choose is their choice entirely and that it is separate to the functioning of the discussion page. Shanna is extremely transparent bout the fact she is a recovered alcoholic and not a professional, counsellor, or AOD worker. Her role in the group is as a facilitator and as a regular recovered alcoholic who simply shares her experience as others do. She is not there as a representative of any programme or group such as AA, SMART recovery etc., rather – she encourages people to seek what works for them as an individual.*she has experience within various recovery programmes and members will recognise this when she discusses options and ideas – but she is extremely clear that she is not an official representative or spokesperson for any organisation.

 

DOES SHANNA WORK FOR HELLO SUNDAY MORNING?

Shanna Whan is currently an official (voluntary) rural ambassador for Hello Sunday Morning - and encourages those who need free online support to visit the Hello Sunday Morning website and download the government-funded Daybreak APP which provides access to qualified coaches, too.

In time – SITC’s goal is to have something similar in place that is tailored to the rural voice.

ARE THERE OTHER FREE ALTERNATIVES IF THIS DOES NOT SUIT ME?

There are literally endless free support pages, groups, and options on offer. In due course, we will upload a resources page to help you out and point you in a few directions. In the meanwhile a simple google will be all you need.