LATEST NEWS DIRECT FROM SHANNA
turns out that 2020 is our year of validation & that we couldn't have predicted any of this !
Last time I shared our 'latest news' - we'd just copped a massive, massive, knockout punch. As did many.
I'd personally lost an entire year of travel and speaker-bookings which would have been the provision for the first (and only) income stream for the charity. After five years minus a cent of income, it was a brutal blow.
COVID wiped us out and put us back at ground zero. In 3 days. After years and years of hard work - and to be standing at the jump-off point, it was devastating. I gave myself permission to fall apart, and spent a week straight curled in a ball.. and I did.
'' Then; another miracle happened. Two leading Australian philanthropic organisations (who'd been watching us from afar) The Snow Foundation and The Yulgilbar Foundation - stepped in, scooped us up, and said ''we need you to be doing what you're doing - now more than ever - how can we help?''
And they threw us a lifeline which, to this day, has literally changed everything. There are not enough words to describe our gratitude, awe, and appreciation - but the long and short of it is that our work was validated utterly thanks (in a backhanded and unexpected way) to this pandemic and these extraordinary, extraordinary people (and their Board, Trustees, and scouts).
'' I especially want to acknowledge Georgina Byron and Maddie Noble. They are angels on earth and the true definition of philanthropic-hearted people who take risks and support those who they see potential and scope in.
The pandemic revealed what we've been trying to get across for a long while: namely, that overcoming addiction in isolation and minus adequate information or support is horrendously difficult.
You see, in the cities - leaders were suddenly declaring that if people couldn't get face-to-face support or access services that 'we had a crisis coming' especially for those facing addiction issues. It's like the penny finally dropped that this battle (our normal) only now mattered because it was impacting their own back yard.
Our own government went on and declared bottle shops an 'essential service' - because they knew that if alcohol was suddenly removed from the Australian supply chain we'd have (a) civil war and (b) a health care system being crashed by the undiagnosed and untreated alcohol dependent all over the nation. The entire fiasco during lockdown has been an endless (albeit passive) confirmation from those above including our own health minister that our nation is both booze-dependent, and equally dependent on the profits from booze.
'' As always - there's a disclaimer here that we do NOT demonise those who enjoy their beer or drink safely and in moderation. That's not our interest or our business. We loathe the idea of a Nanny state as much as the next person. The fact is that Big Alcohol profits from the 20% of their customers who are those long past the point of moderation. It's the oldest business rule in history - the rule of 80/20.
We aren't here to comment on healthy Aussies going about their daily life and enjoying normality - we've always been here to raise awareness around the silent and overlooked demographic of hard-working rural and remote Australians who get up and show up to feed and clothe everyone through either their own operations or associated businesses. Those, who, when they stick their hand up and recognise they need 'a helping hand' with their alcohol use - cannot get it. They don't qualify, and they certainly cannot afford the exorbitant expense of travelling to a major city for treatment, rehab, etc. It's simply not possible for most of us. Let alone after a decade of drought then floods, bushfires, and pandemics. When COVID ends, nothing changes for us. Isolation is our normal.
So whether you care to admit it or not - the truth is, this is actually a broader-scale food security issue that impacts the entire nation. If we, as a country, continue to overlook the skilled men and women who love the land, work the land, and are prepared to live this life - where does that lead us? It's an embarrassingly, offensive and endless oversight from those who claim to lead us.
Rural Australia might be the 'minority' - and yet, they feed the majority. So in the end surely they need, deserve, and are within their rights to expect the same attention to detail when it comes to services and support that their city cousins and counterparts enjoy?
'' I am against divisiveness and all about collaboration, as anyone would know. But sometimes agitation and truth is required to do what has to be done. Because somebody must.
We have now proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that boots-on-the-ground and 'real talk' from bush people FOR bush people is the missing element here in our healthcare system. Since we became an official endorsed charity in late 2019, we are going from strength-to-strength. Not because I am extraordinary. But because I am so very ordinary . Just a living, breathing representative of what is happening across our bush demographic. I am simply articulating what is the brutal truth of a silent struggle for many.
In the same way we focus on regenerative Ag for sustainable futures - we need to focus on regenerative PEOPLE for a sustainable rural sector that can feed future Australians, and be healthy, well, and given adequate options for care that meets them where they are at.
Sober in the Country is a tiny grassroots charity (most of what we do is via 2 volunteers - no head office - no funded team...) making enormous impact in this space. Further proof that this conversation, awareness, education, and real talk is needed and wanted and embraced.
'' Turns out that a 2020 that started with a total disaster has ended up being the very best thing that ever could have happened to us and those we represent.
We are tremendously humble and grateful for the national support growing every day for our work and for our wish to keep carrying the message that ''it's OK2SAYNO'' to a beer - and it's OK to support our mates choosing to drink less, or not at all. We are making steady inroads into shifting this national culture change through being inclusive of all.
I can not wait to keep leading this charity in 2020 and doing what I can with what I have.
A special thanks as always to Ally, Tim, Flip and our Bush Tribe. Together - we now have over 700 professional men and women helping each other through the challenges of learning how to live a life sober in the country. And each and every single one of these brave pioneers is creating a powerful impact and ripple-effect of hope and change within their own communities. Soon - we will be launching a brand new online platform to better meet the needs of these members. You can read about it here.
'' We all hope for and look forward to the day it'll be just as socially ordinary to say 'no thanks, I don't drink' as it is to say 'no thanks, I don't smoke.'
Don't forget it wasn't so long ago cancer-causing tobacco companies were 'sporting sponsors' ... we changed that, and we will change this. One day at a time.
Aussies have the right to choose what they do or don't do - but they must be given full and truthful access to information so they can, in turn, make informed decisions. And that isn't happening in the alcohol space. So, we work. Relentlessly. Just to bring the truth to light and in doing so - save many precious lives.
Shanna & the SITC tribe.
Ps - if you'd like to read what 180 rural Australians are saying about why SITC is important to them - read our latest blog here. x