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Correct Title: Shanna Whan, CEO + Founder, Sober in the Country

Intro: Shanna is from Maules Creek in north western NSW, where she lives on the land with her husband Tim and two blue heelers. Shanna was announced the Local Hero for NSW in the Australian of the Year awards for 2022 and will represent the state at national finals on Australia Day.

Correct PronunciationShanna-like-Anna | Whan-like-Swan

Correct summary of the Sober in the Country charity: SITC is a grassroots bush charity leading social impact & change across rural Australia through laser-focused peer support, education, advocacy, and the #OK2SAYNO campaign.

Contact: for more (including images, logos, etc.)

SHORT Bio: At the age of 40, Shanna Whan was, in her own words, a suicidal alcoholic at breaking point. A series of traumas she experienced as a young jillaroo in remote NSW that led to binge-drinking and a party-girl-persona to ''hide behind'' would end, eventually, in (undiagnosed and untreated) alcohol addiction. After making a full recovery despite endless odds - the rural woman and Australian of the Year 2022 for NSW's Local Hero made it her life’s work to advocate on behalf of other overlooked demographic of rural and remote Australians facing the same battles. In 2019 Shanna founded Sober in the Country Ltd with a mission to help her bush peers understand that the simple, inclusive, life-saving message that it should always be 'okay to say no' to a beer is helping to save lives. SITC now has a national reach and reputation as the 'voice for the bush' and currently the bush charity offers peer support, links to resources, powerful broad scale advocacy, education, and straight talk. 

LONG Bio: MAULES CREEK's Shanna Whan is a rural woman who overcame a life-long battle with alcohol addiction. In February 2015 she had her last drink. That same day, she and her husband Tim quietly resolved to use this second chance at life to help others in 'some way'.


After 5 years of voluntary work, and an episode of Australian Story called ''Last Drinks,'' which was viewed buy millions, Shanna was granted charitable status in 2019, and has since turned her passion into a national not-for-profit - Sober in the Country (aka SITC) - which now reaches up to 100,000 Australians through social media through straight-talk designed for rural Australians.


SITC's 'OK2SAYNO' campaign has been creating social impact in the bush teaching mates to be fully respectful and supportive of mates, no matter what they're drinking...  Far from being an anti-alcohol message; SITC is teaching an entire bush culture the life-saving message that when somebody chooses to say 'no thanks' or 'not today' (no matter their reason) our support can be a game-changer. The campaign has been so well received that on 22.2.22, it's launching as the charity's official, annual charitable day - to raise funds, awareness, and to continue the social momentum.

The charity's peer support group known as the Bush Tribe is a connection point for hundreds of like-minded rural men and women choosing to cut back or ditch the booze for good, and in addition to administrating this space while collecting essential data and information to take to leadership as a tool in her fight for 'better for the bush' -  Shan personally travels upon invitation across Australia - and has represented rural Oz in amazing places from the Opera House stage to the desert, and in between, where she advocates for other overlooked and invisible rural, regional or remote Australians who - just like her - face endless enormous barriers that come with living in 'permanent ISO' minus adequate services or support and in a social culture steeped in booze.


Her philosophy - and now national not-for-profit organisation Sober in the Country (SITC's) charity philosophy is deeply rooted in the famous Desmond Tutu quote that - ''there comes a time when we need to stop pulling people out of the river when they've already drowned - and go upstream and find out why they're falling in.''


Winner of NSW Local Hero category, Australian of the Year Awards, 2022​, Winner of ProBono Australia's ''Top 25'' Impact awards - 2021, Nominee for Australian of the Year (Local Hero) in 2020 + 2021, Regional Woman of the Year (Finalist) 2020, SHINE Volunteer of the Year Finalist (2018), AgriFutures Rural Woman of the Year Finalist (2017)

Key Messages about SITC that are useful / critical and up-to-date: 

  • rural | remote Australians are 150% more likely to experience alcohol harm, and only 17% will get help (this is data from the Australian Drug Foundation.)

  • ''ISO'' is our normal - yet there is little recognition of this truth, and little equality in services or support for this specific area: eg: in our SITC survey of 500 rural men and women (wanting to cut back or quit alcohol altogether) we learned that every respondent shared the same concerns around social exclusion, and, horrifyingly - that not one single person who actively sought support for alcohol use, abuse, or addiction - could access safe, confidential, or timely local services.

  • SITC has both anecdotal evidence & data that confirms alcohol abuse / misuse / addiction is a common binding thread across adversity for rural & remote people; from mental health to suicide to physical health, farm safety, and others

  • SITC messaging has proven that when we ensure our mates know it is #OK2SAYNO to 'the beers' via a user-friendly message FOR bush people, and BY bush people - it resonates. And because of that: we are helping change an outdated dialogue and conversation while preventing harm, stopping ancient stigmas, and saving lives

  • SITC's peer group, The Bush Tribe, is connecting this overlooked demographic and proving a literal lifeline and a safe space and beautiful online community for many

  • rural Australians are stepping up to acknowledge it's time to change the conversation around alcohol, and SITC is providing the leadership, language, information and education to make that possible

  • leading rural organisations and employers are now endorsing SITC's simple messaging in their workplaces in the same way we now include OH&S, safety in the workplace, and other non-negotiable standards

  • our charity is very strictly not ''anti-alcohol'' or prohibitionist in approach; we know that isn't viable. Our approach is positive and all about supporting mates, and those choices.

  • SITC receives no funding from either state or federal Government

  • COVID has cost us upwards of $150,000 of what would have been self-generated income from invitations to travel, speak, and share our work in communities, within corporate Ag, and nation-wide. 

  • We hope to seek support from the public and donors in terms of awareness + funding at the launch of our official inaugural charity day, launching 22.2.22 - click here for full details

Other information often asked for:

  • SITC was registered as a charity in 2019, the same week Australian Story aired ''Last Drinks'' 

  • Prior to that, Shanna spent 5 years working ''full time'' as a solo volunteer

A selection of example images are below. 

Email for these in high res or for logos, etc.