Australian Story: Nov 18

Monday’s Australian Story is in the outback to profile Shanna Whan, the founder of a blog called Sober in the Country.

This episode is introduced by television reporter Talitha Cummins who spoke on Australian Story three years ago about her own battle with alcoholism.

“I would love nothing more than to see a rural Australia in which a man or a woman is free to say ‘no thank you’ to a drink.” Shanna Whan, Sober in the Country founder

Australian Story journeyed beyond the bitumen to profile the woman who is single-handedly trying to change the drinking culture in outback Australia.

Filmed over six months in Birdsville, Narrabri and St George, this episode profiles Shanna Whan, the founder of a blog called Sober in the Country.

At her peak Shanna was drinking up to four bottles of wine a night before she hit rock bottom and decided to kick the bottle.

After a year of sobriety, Shanna decided to use her experience as a way of helping others.

It started with a simple request on her Facebook page: “Wanted. Beer loving men who’d like to chat.”

Soon she had 300 people wanting to share their stories about struggling with alcohol in a culture where men are often judged by how many beers they can put away.

“The common thread throughout every single country town that I lived in, or every remote area, was that we all came together over alcohol,” said Shanna Whan.

“It’s how you met people and it’s how you fitted in. It’s how you did work and it’s how you did deals.”

But the dark side of the alcohol culture in the bush is isolation, loneliness, despair and stress.

These issues are often kept private by country people who are famously stoic in the face of adversity.

So Shanna Whan decided to out herself as an alcoholic, “throwing herself under the bus,” and telling her own painful story to encourage others to seek help.

Monday November 18 on ABC.

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