A couple of weeks ago we asked our private / peer group (affectionately known as The Bush Tribe) to contribute to a survey. Included in that was the question: ''why is Sober in the Country important to you?''
These are the incredible responses from 180 of you across Australia.
And it's incredibly powerful. To those who took part; thank you.
The recurrent word that jumps out is like-minded.
This is invaluable data, information, feedback, and further proof that the overlooked demographic of hard working Australian rural and remote men and women need support delivered in a way that makes sense to them.
Here are the responses, listed below:
I like to read positive outcomes thinking maybe that could be me one day
It helps me to know I’m not alone in this battle
As I can be part of a community that understands ❤
Helps me realise I'm not alone
It's a supporting community and someone is always there when I need encouragement
Support like-minded people
It’s a supportive network of like- minded people and Shanna is an amazing passionate voice for regional people with alcohol issues
For support and guidance
Being able to relate to people in the same demographic
Because it gives me hope and help
I’m interested in the program
it is good to see other regional people with similar struggles - socialising is completely around alcohol in my friend circles
Support network of like-minded people
Just joined. The feeling of not being alone
For all the reasons it was started in the first place, try being unknown in a rural community. Drs are so overwhelmed and rural people are good at ‘she’ll be right’.
It is good to feel not alone and there has been many useful ideas and information
The support it gives. The family feels. The endless resources offered.
I contacted SHANNA to help me have a better understanding of someone who has a problem with alcohol. My son has a problem, everybody else can see it just not him.
It’s a movement that I hope to see get bigger. I hope this impacts greatly on my own children’s future and the decisions they make with alcohol and growing up in a rural area.
It gives me hope
I need someone to talk to, to listen, to hear me, and not judge me.
Like-minded rural people facing the same challenges
Reminds me of the reasons I don’t drink anymore
SITC provides me with validation and encouragement. Our drinking culture is massive, and I find explaining my non-drinking choices tiresome. The sense that there’s a whole whack of people who support my choices - and make similar choices - is extremely valuable.
A network of like-minded people
To hear from like-minded people with the same situation regardless of how we got here. To identify that our country culture is so different to city culture and now to see the ground swell of change is such a support. I am not in this by myself even though I am the one doing things differently in our social group.
Keeps me on track with my alcohol intake.
They are a group of people from the bush who are recognising the impact of their alcohol use and trying to reduce or stop it.
Ongoing support from SITC family. It's my private place to go when I need to 24/7.
I have found it useful to see others journies (SIC) and a good support group.
Shared experiences and support
Info, resources and a sense of community
This group helped me admit I had a problem to myself.
I have friends and family with alcohol dependency issues and SITC is helping me learn how to open dialogue about these troubles without accusation and also teaching me how i can be more supportive
There’s many reasons to why it’s important to me but the main two are connecting like-minded beings and a platform of support.
It’s a safe place to talk openly and honestly without judgement. The members of the group are uplifting and supportive
A supportive empathetic tribe with many of The same issues
A great support without judgement. Like-minded people who understand
Community & support
It’s a place I can continually turn to, and not feel ashamed about my pitfalls and to gain better strength and guidance
A dynamic connection for those getting Sober in The Country.
A confidential platform of like-minded people who get where you are at - very supportive too
It’s my family that understands and is a listening ear when needed, I don’t think I would be able to be where I am with my journey of AF life without SITC
It helped me save my life
I’ve been a binge drinker all my life and I am working on changing. Sober in the Country gives me other people like me to follow their advice and positive stories.
Believe alcohol consumption has been normalised by social media and we need to totally turn that thinking around
Same values. I’d like to promote no stigma to not drinking (or cutting back)
I think it’s important that people don’t feel socially pressured to drink and feel they can say no
Has given me inspiration to reduce alcohol consumption and gain a clearer mind
Reminds me every day not to drink. Which is getting easier.
It’s providing support to rural people where they don’t have much help
Because it shows that others are experiencing what you have experienced
Like minded honest open genuine supportive people with the same goal in mind
Provides support and companionship
Having people that understand what you have been going through and support .
I love to hear people's stories and not feel quite so isolated
It's grassroots and supportive
It is my first step in my decision to stop drinking
Keep me inspired to stay on track and keep moving in a positive direction
Great to see other people's story and get motivation from them, and to show support to others trying to navigate this tricky thing called alcoholism.
Connection. I felt alone and also that something was wrong with me, but now I realise alcohol affects so many people in a negative way
Saved my life, my family
confidentiality and support
It connects people with a shared experience
Because it accessible, approachable, it is an absolute fabulous
Because it helped me moderate my drinking
It’s the only easily accessible support I have where I feel safe and supported
Good support and thoughts
Shanna inspired me with her story to stop drinking and the group has become an invaluable support.
It felt like it was an issue rurally and it was nice to find a page that was relevant
It is a great resource to strengthen and enlighten you in all aspects of over drinking to Alcoholism. So positive choices can be made.
It is nice to have support and caring from people that are going through the same/similar experience as me
It gives me a safe space to ask questions and learn from others experience, makes me feel included
Provides insight and encouragement and de-normalises the country drinking culture.
I find it has motivated me to review how much I drink
IMHO it is a non-judgemental platform
My father drank himself to death, anything to help with this disease is much welcomed
Real people sharing their lives and battles with addiction
It’s a supportive community of like-minded people
Connects me with others having similar challenges
I no alcohol isn't the answer and my body's telling me to quit reading about others is helping me justify quitting.
I’m a nurse at a local hospital in the country and there is not enough support or education for Alcohol abuse
Helps to put my struggle into perspective, feels like I am not alone with my trouble.
Information and community minded discussion from “normal” people
It's a safe place where I can support others in their choice of sobriety from my lived experience.
For positive thoughts and role models and for their hard work in raising awareness of the struggle for help in rural communities
An opportunity to assist others with there (sic) battle, by sharing my experience and by sharing strategies that were successful for me. It also helps remind me of how far I'm come, reinforcing to me that I never want to go back there.
Keeps my mind grounded on reducing my alcohol consumption, and to help motivate me to reduce and regularly self-critique my choices with alcohol
It does a sterling job at attempting to promote well-being in the bush for those affected by alcohol
To connect and feel normal whilst feeling so alien most of the times in my big drinking community.
It allows me share critical information about alcohol in non-medical language
Support from like-minded people
It has been a massive support system for me reading life stories with such support from Shan and the family. I have reduced my drinking A LOT since joining SITC. It is so bloody hard living in a small rural community with lack of support. I feel so grateful to have such an amazing honest courageous role model who holds us all in her hands and heart. SITC is brilliant for all us in the bush it is a safe supportive system that Works for a lot of people.
Because I want all people to be able to access resources and I’m so grateful for the work they do
A group of peers who understand addiction and also support each other.
Support life line
It is an amazing network of people, who are all about the same thing. No one is judged for where they lie on the alcoholic spectrum. Everyone's is on the journey together, great community feel.
The only real support that resonates
Moral support, Shan is like a mentor
Shanna’s knowledge and enthusiasm is a driver and the extra resources are great. Although I am city not country, I find it a great resource
Because even though I don't drink, I am constantly aware of the pressure to do so, and I cannot imagine how hard that must be on someone who has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
I learn the importance of community when l need to problem solve. It is a place to share and show gratitude.
A voice for a problem our Government needs to take notice of.
It's amazing support, when anonymous isn't a thing in a small town.
I don’t feel so alone. I’m not the only one out there
Because SITC is about starting a conversation rather than ‘fixing’ the perceived cultural problem.
I love the no nonsense real practical daily commentry (sic).
A safe place to listen and share experiences
Supporting a friend
I resonated with Shannas story on Insight the day I saw it. It was becoming my story. I took myself to the D and A unit at the base hospital. I was very concerned about privacy given I worked in human services and I was a parent.
Safe supportive place with like minded people
I enjoy seeing people overcome addiction
Getting good messages out there. Much needed
It makes me feel normal. Being 18 and not drinking is very unusual and always questioned. It’s nice just to see anyone else that has made the same decision.
Mutual support. I like the privacy of the small group
Being part of a group of sober people in the bush
Reminds me alcohol is not the answer
Support and non-judgment from a community
It is a place I feel I can truly be myself without fear or shame. A safe space to connect with others who have had or having similar struggles with alcohol.
Because I consider myself recovered I would love to be helpful to others, by encouraging them and highlighting the many positive aspects of sobriety.
Because I am a country person these people make sense to me.
Community of hope and support - lived experience is invaluable!
Contact with others who understand the challenges of maintaining sobriety in a country town with little community support and a big drinking culture
Support in friendly place that makes me feel safe
It is good to converse with like-minded people who are struggling with alcohol.
Helped me realise I am not alone in my quest to be healthy physically and emotionally. Sober in the Country has helped me become Sober and question my motives for drinking.
The private group is a safe non judgmental space for people to support each other. Everyone understands the effects of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol
It’s a lifeline, a support group to people and remote areas that share a common bond
I don’t like AA so it’s nice to have some other group of people who are trying to do something about their alcohol use.
I don't have non drinking friends, it's nice to be in a space where people get my challenges
Because it is a group of like minded country professionals who have the same goal.
Support and experience of others
Like-minded people. Support and encouragement. Positivity. Seeing that it is possible to have a happy life booze free.
It was the only thing that worked for me to get and stay sober.
Another support tool
It gives a message of Hope and Recovery, and advocates for Sobriety
People in similar situations understand your experiences
Contact with other like minded people
Everyone is so supportive no matter where you are on the journey. It’s so important to find a ‘tribe’ who understands cos they’ve been there
Inclusivity, helpfulness, and acceptance. Realising you aren't in this alone.
By people sharing their experiences, I don’t feel alone and isolated with my addiction to Alcohol
Support for rural and knowledge based- private and comfortable
Good to relate to others
It understands what it's like living rurally in a heavy drinking area.
Supports me in the bush where others can't
it's the only place that speaks sense to us and for us
To every single one of you who took the time to get involved, pass on your feedback, and share your thoughts - I am about as close to speechless as it's possible for me to be.
On behalf of myself, our board, our tiny team of volunteers including Felicity, Ally, Tim and me - and our philanthropists - I cannot thank you enough. These words are validation of why this work must always continue.
The most enormous debt of our gratitude, as always, goes to The Snow Foundation (Georgina and her team), The Yulgilbar Foundation (Maddie and the team), Craig Hegharty from PWC, The Arnott Family, and the rural community who donate to our charity and support us. Without you, none of this would be possible.
To those we work alongside in the alcohol awareness space including Hello Sunday Morning, FARE, The Alcohol and Drug Foundation - we thank you, too. Always. For collaboration, camaraderie, friendship, and the sharing of this journey.
All my (our) gratitude -
Together - we ARE making change.