Find out more about the special people at the heart of Sober in the Country that help our charity make meaningful change.

Our charity began as Shanna alone blogging on a laptop, donating five years as a full-time volunteer to get the conversation started around booze in the bush. We have grown a LOT in ten years.
Sober in the Country now has four key staff members: two full-time paid roles and two part-time volunteer roles. We’re all rural people from all around Australia with lived experience of alcohol harm (either personally or via a loved one). Our team all live the values and vision of our charity, and we all bring different skills to the table: from PR and comms experience to business acumen and administration skills. We’re a close, collaborative and supportive group, despite the thousands of kilometres between us. Sober in the Country has also built a team of volunteer moderators who help us curate and run our Bush Tribe online peer support group.

Our Key Staff


Shanna Whan

Founder, CEO and Director (Full Time)

Shanna Whan is the founding Director, CEO, and driving force behind Sober in the Country. After overcoming her own lifelong trauma-linked alcohol addiction in 2015 without help, adequate services, or even a place to go, she decided to be the change.

Ten years later, Shanna has shifted the dial on conversations around booze in the outback and is widely regarded by both peers and professionals in the alcohol and addictions space as a pioneer for change in rural Australia. Sober in the Country’s advocacy and education are driven by Shanna’s tireless efforts, her huge heart, her creative brain and her skill with words.

Shanna lives in north-western New South Wales with her husband, Tim, and her beloved menagerie of dogs. Find out more about Shanna here.


Felicity “Flip” Nolen

Director & Executive Assistant (Full Time)

Felicity “Flip” Nolen is Sober in the Country’s remote Executive Assistant, Director, and administrative support person. We like to call her our “magical unicorn” because, well, she is one: there’s nothing Flip can’t do and do brilliantly (and lightning fast as well). Flip is a master of systems, processes and attention to detail, which is a literal godsend for Shanna, who possesses none of those skills! Flip allows Shanna to focus on the big-picture stuff by providing critical support and being an anchor point for all the minutiae of daily not-for-profit work.

Flip lives in the rural town of Leeton in southern New South Wales. She is a dedicated community woman with a huge heart for service. Her administrative, marketing, advertising, corporate and rural-life backgrounds make her an essential and deeply valued part of the Sober in the Country team.


Justin Lippiatt

Director & Governance Support (Volunteer, Part Time)

Justin is Sober in the Country’s third director and brings not just lived experience in the form of over 20 years of alcohol-free life to our Bush Tribe, but also a raft of expertise in governance and the not-for-profit sector. He is a natural leader and has decades of expertise working with individuals and teams to help them achieve significant outcomes.

Justin works on the Sunny Coast (Queensland) full time and yet still finds the time to volunteer for Sober in the Country and support our staff. Justin is a highly valued member of our team.


Tim Whan

Director & Business Support (Volunteer, Part Time)

Tim “Whanny” Whan grew up on the land in north-western New South Wales and is a country bloke through and through. Tim is also a visionary thinker and strategist. As our fourth director, he brings solid decision-making skills to the team and is a guiding post for us all. Tim has worked on the land and in the rural sector his entire life. Ten years ago, he established and successfully grew his own rural agribusiness (Rain Ag) thanks to his capacity to take massive bold leaps and be courageous about putting into action what others only think or dream about. He is a businessman, agricultural expert, and a hugely and deservedly well-respected man by all who come into his orbit. 

Tim is still a north-western New South Wales man and lives on some beautiful country with his wife, Shanna, and their dogs.

Our Bush Tribe Volunteers 

We administrate and moderate our Bush Tribe online peer support group with infinite care and governance.

We have lovingly and painstakingly refined and curated the Bush Tribe over the past decade.

In addition to daily interactions and contributions from our CEO, founder, and lived-experience expert Shanna – and our admin/tech/support guru, Flip – we have some wonderfully giving and skilled volunteer moderators who add support daily as well.


Robyn B

Volunteer Bush Tribe Moderator

Robyn is five years alcohol free. She's a horticulturalist from Central Australia who was an original member of the Bush Tribe. Robyn is also a member of her local recovery support group. She is a cherished and valued volunteer moderator.

I remember when I first saw Sober in the Country on my Facebook feed, and, being newly sober, I was feeling miserable and really struggling. I decided to make a comment on one of their posts, which was immediately answered by Shan herself. She suggested that joining the Bush Tribe may be very helpful in my recovery. So, I joined up and immediately found it highly constructive. I got involved straight away (posting and commenting) and absorbed the resources. What I also felt I needed, though, was some face-to-face connection, and they suggested I see if a local recovery group was available, which it was. And so now, I use both. Today, I am happy, joyous and free as I trudge the road of “Happy Destiny”. May you all find peace and love.



Maree Garrett

Volunteer Bush Tribe Moderator

Maree hails from regional southern New South Wales and is an original member of the Bush Tribe. Maree is 5 years alcohol free and is a respected and beloved volunteer moderator.

The truth is, I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for the Bush Tribe, their support, and the work of Sober in the Country. I honestly never thought I could kick the grog … but when I accidentally stumbled on Sober in the Country founder Shanna’s story, it really resonated. And that was the beginning. Back then, I never imagined I’d have the life I have now, and that is why I choose to give back and support others on their journeys, wherever they are at. I believe what Sober in the Country teaches: which is that we don’t heal in isolation but in connection and community with others who know what it’s like. The Bush Tribe provides that community, online.



Danielle Sticklen

Volunteer Bush Tribe Moderator

Danielle is another original member of our Bush Tribe. She is also a nurse, farmer, and mum from Warwick, Queensland, who's four years alcohol-free. Danielle is a valued and treasured volunteer moderator.

My sobriety date will be March 9th, which means in 2024 I will have clocked up 4 years of sobriety. Shanna was my initial inspiration to get sober, and then, the Sober in the Country Bush Tribe became my support as I navigated my way. For me, it's been invaluable to use self-help material focusing on cognitive behavioural therapy. I also was inspired to go on and study and graduate with a Certificate IV in AOD to educate myself on alcohol and addiction and to help me better understand what I was going through and why. For me, “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace was a powerful tool, too. In 2023, my family and I participated in the Sober in the Country “Amplification Project” you can watch my story – Episode One – here.



Noelene Brown

Volunteer Bush Tribe Moderator

Noelene, from Horsham, Victoria, is a dog mama, a human mama, and a wonderful human being. She is four years alcohol free and is a skilled and beloved volunteer moderator.

I am a country girl at heart, hailing from rural Tasmania, and now living in beautiful regional Victoria. Let's just say I took the scenic route to get here. My life's been quite the adventure, with plenty of good times but with lots of loss, heartache, and just plain old tough times along the way, too. At some point, alcohol became my painkiller, numbing me from everything around me – the bad and the good – for over two decades. Having a problem with alcohol is not easy, especially when you live in a rural area or a small country town. The shame and the guilt weigh heavy, and it's almost impossible to stay anonymous in your community when you do reach out for help. I know. I've been there. I tried so many times to quit drinking, and nothing I tried ever stuck for very long. For me, in the end, “This Naked Mind” (by Annie Grace) and the peer connections with Sober in the Country’s Bush Tribe became my go-to, and I am now 4 years happily alcohol free.