DESPITE being nominated for the 'Local Hero' accolade in the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards, humble Maules Creek woman Shanna Whan considers herself far from a hero.
After almost dying from alcohol addiction in 2015, Ms Whan has spent the last seven years sharing and devoting her life to helping bush people tackle, and talk openly about, the horrifying and common disease.
"You've only got to live in the bush for five minutes to know the prolific impact it has in all of our communities," Ms Whan said.
Changing the conversation around alcohol is the top priority for the 'Sober in the Country' (SITC) founder who advocates for a friendly and inclusive message that it's okay to say no to a beer.
"We're not telling people what to do," she said.
"We're asking mates to step up and be better mates and support their friends who choose not to drink."
Because of her hard work and dedication Ms Whan has found herself on the list of nominees for the 'Local Hero' Award.
However, with no interest in prestige or glory, Ms Whan said she was far from a hero.
"I'm just the perfect example of what this horrific common disease does within our bush community."
Despite using her own struggles with addiction to kickstart the conversation, Ms Whan said the nomination was an acknowledgement of the fight and struggle of rural people around Australia.
"When I set up this charity, from the very get go it was never about me," she said.
"Everything that is done through SITC is others focused."
Instead of a medal or a crown, Ms Whan hoped this award would put improving alcohol addiction in rural areas high on the agenda for politicians.
"Alcohol abuse and misuse is literally at the heart and soul of almost every single issue in terms of health in rural people," she said.
"They literally get overlooked again and again."
Ms Whan said it was time for politicians, who claim they are all for rural people and rural health, to prove their commitment and start taking action.
"There is nothing that is tailored, that is timely and accessible," she said.
"It deserves equality in funding, it deserves equality in acknowledgement and support."
The Local Hero Award winner will be announced on January 26, next year.
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