How a trucker cap and a conversation can help save a life:
Imagine this: an Aussie walks into a country pub and orders something non-alcoholic, and no-one bats an eyelid. That’s the day Shanna Whan will know she’s achieved her life’s goal.
After almost losing her own life to alcohol addiction in 2015, Shanna’s spent the past seven years working tirelessly to create change, advocacy and community connection in the bush when it comes to our love of booze. After 15,000 solo volunteer hours, in what she describes as a ‘relentless slog’, Shanna founded and launched the national not-for-profit Sober in the Country (SITC) in 2019 and recently added the popular ‘OK2SAYNO’ campaign into the mix. The campaign is a really user-friendly hashtag and message that’s helping us save lives across the bush by a simple shift in how we talk about alcohol and how we cater for those who choose to say no. It hasn’t come through telling people what to do or how to do it either. After all, Shanna says she would never have copped that approach herself.
Rather than being an anti-alcohol message or prohibitionist in any way, SITC is all about being pro-choice, inclusion, and acceptance - and aims to support those who simply choose to say ‘no thanks’ to a drink.
‘’What I’ve learned is that you can’t ever threaten an Australian’s God-given right to drink beer,’’ Shan laughs, ‘’ but what you CAN do is appeal to people’s sense of mateship and right and wrong. That’s totally allowed. So we do that.’’
‘’What the charity is teaching Aussies to do is to go ahead and enjoy their beer - but to make it okay when their mates pass, no matter when, and no matter why.’’ says Shanna.
‘’We are challenging bush friends to ensure the welfare of their mate comes well before the choice of drink in hand. And nobody can argue with that.’’
There’s not a day that goes by without someone reaching out to Shanna to share how SITC has changed their life or the life of a loved one.
A self-described ‘very ordinary’ person, it’s that exact quality that connects Shanna with the everyday, country person - she is them. “I never claim or accept the label of being anything special or unique as an individual because I am simply not. And I can't save anyone's life. But what I can do is start a conversation and lead a shift in dialogue from a lived-experience perspective. And, that’s why SITC was created and that’s how we're saving lives - through a collective message across the bush now, every single day,” Shanna says.
It’s this same drive, passion and ambition that has brought Delta Ag and SITC together to continue to share and amplify the #OK2SAYNO message.
Delta Ag and Shanna Whan are no strangers. Shanna’s previous roles in the ag industry have meant she’s been a familiar identity around the traps in the past across southern NSW when she called places like Young, Wagga Wagga and Harden home. Shan has also shared her story and message at the annual Delta Ag managers meeting where she connected and resonated with the team.
‘’I’ve always been a huge fan of the Delta Ag ethos, and crew,’’ Shanna said, ‘’and I just love that they’re always ahead of the game when it comes to key issues around sustainability in its people … which is a core value we are totally aligned with,’’ said Shanna.
“We really wanted to share and support the SITC message,’’ Delta Ag Communications Manager Dean Kinlyside said.
‘’Shanna’s story, passion for change and the journey she has been on are just incredible. She is the real deal. I have been looking for ways that we can engage with this message and share it amongst our vast network, and a simple trucker cap seemed like a logical idea. We mentioned the idea to Andrew Cosser from one of our long-standing suppliers Coreteva, and he immediately got behind it. It’s pretty simple, we have created a series of trucker caps similar to the charity’s core range - with SITC and #OK2SAYNO branding. We’re selling the hats, in-store, for $30 each through our Delta Ag network in NSW and North West Ag Services network in Victoria. 100% of proceeds will be donated to SITC which in turn will assist Shanna and her small team to continue to help our rural communities.’’
Shanna Whan says that something the charity gets asked all the time is: ‘’can we wear the caps if we drink beer?’’ - and the answer is a resounding YES!
‘’In the same way you don’t have to have suffered a fight with cancer to wear pink to raise awareness for the McGrath Foundation - you don’t have to have battled with the bottle to wear our merchandise. We actually love it when we see our caps on the heads of someone enjoying a beer because it really rams home the message that we are 100% about social inclusion. When you wear our caps you’re showing that you support your mate and their choice to say no thanks or just not today,’’ Shanna said.
‘’And that’s how we’re saving and changing lives.’’
To learn more about the awesome work SITC are doing check out www.soberinthecountry.org/ and their series of new podcasts.