Backtrack Boys Impact News

The Backtrack Boys film’s impact campaign is creating change – the film is inspiring and supporting communities, educating young people and the people that work with them. Read more about what the impact campaign has achieved this month …




What impact can one man and his dog jumping team have on the lives of young people doing it tough in the bush? A profound one, Catherine Scott tells Wendy Williams, as part of a series profiling powerful documentaries in partnership with Documentary Australia Foundation.

READ MORE: ProBono Australia – Doco of the Month



We’re thrilled to tell you (if you didn’t know already!) that CEO and founder of BackTrack Youth Works, Bernie Shakeshaft’s hero status has finally been recognised. Bernie has won the 2020 NSW Local Hero Award. 

The story behind Bernie’s nomination for Australian of the Year is a beautiful testament to the power of the film when a passionate teacher and educator working within an NSW Correctional Facility was so moved by the Backtrack Boys film that she screened the documentary to the inmates she teaches.

The response was overwhelming. The inmates first wrote personal letters to Bernie about what it would have meant for them to be part of a program like BackTrack when they were younger. They were so impacted that they also asked their teacher to help them to nominate Bernie for Australian of the Year.

One inmate wrote There is more to life than jail, the film inspired me to help younger Aboriginal people in my community. There is more to life than drugs or alcohol or domestic violence.”  

Another said that it motivated them to help others in the future. “It’s an overwhelming feeling seeing someone actually believe in us, the boys in the film are just a younger version of us. It motivated me to offer my experience and help if there is a possibility for me to do so.”

Their teacher who believes strongly in the power of screening the film added, “The thing that stuck out for me was they thought it was beautiful to see that there are people out there who believe in their skills and abilities. This movie gave them hope and I often wonder what their lives would be like if they had access to the BackTrack program in their younger years.” 

We are pleased to tell you that the inmates their educator played a part in the BackTrack’s founder CEO Bernie Shakeshaft receiving the NSW Local Hero Award.M\


Backtrack Boys hopes to continue the program to screen the film within Juvenile Detention Centres in Australia in the coming months.

If you work in Juvenile Justice please email if you would like to be part of the screening program.



We are developing educational tools to accompany “Backtrack Boys”.
We would like the documentary to be used in schools, TAFEs, Uni’s and also for anyone working with young people such as youth workers, police, juvenile justice and community services.

Please email to register your interest



With Australian-wide community screenings are continuing to take place and with the recent national TV broadcast of Backtrack Boys on SBS – the film has generated huge interest with over 120 communities and towns expressing a desire in starting BackTrack style programs!

A new youth program called RuffTrack that was inspired by Backtrack Boys film operated a 12-week pilot program in NSW’s Hawkesbury/Bankstown area and is was so successful it is now set to continue for a further year. RuffTrack, like BackTrack, aims to connect disengaged youth with their community and to collaborate with local police to make real change in young people’s lives.

RuffTrack came about after Backtrack Boys was screened by a local organisation, Hawkesbury Helping Hands. Local youth police officer Belinda Flynn, and (farmer) Dave Graham, in collaboration with local police, businesses and schools attended the event and the community were inspired to create this new youth program. This is what can happen when a “whole of community” approach is taken!

BackTrack Youth Works are now helping to mentor RuffTrack and we are proud to say our Backtrack Boy Zac is working for BackTrack Youth Works (Zac is currently completing his Cert in Community Services) and he is now mentoring the team in the Hawkesbury and showing them the ropes (or the dog leads!)

Bernie Shakeshaft, founder and CEO of BackTrack told the Gazette he hopes the Hawkesbury community supports RuffTrack to keep it going at Riverstone, so they can continue their goal of helping as many young people having a hard time as possible. “BackTrack is going so well here in Armidale, that we’ve been working for a couple of years on replication and scale, and we have found it works pretty effectively in other towns too,” Mr Shakeshaft said.

“Since the program (RuffTrack) began, every one of the participants’ parents has called me and said they have a new son in their house who is respectful, who communicates, who has started to care about what they’re going through. In just three months, it seems like they’ve totally turned their lives around.” – Farmer Dave

Read more about the way Bernie’s program inspired RuffTrack here.

READ MORE: Rufftrack
Host a screening of the film and start a discussion in your community about helping your young people! CLICK TO HOST PAGE

Read more about the way Bernie’s program inspired RuffTrack here and how the program is set to continue! here



BackTrack have been honoured to be part of this year’s NSW Dept of Communities and Justice Practice Conference. Child protection practitioners and leaders were given the opportunity to watch and learn from the Backtrack Boys documentary and hear from CEO Bernie Shakeshaft and two of the successful young people that have been through the BackTrack program. Facilitated by senior practitioner Kate Alexander, the keynote session was positively received by over 500 child protection workers and streamed live around the state to over 130 locations.

The screening and discussion helped deepen their knowledge and skills on how to connect with young people who are experiencing challenges and about the enormous power of love, acceptance and belonging that the BackTrack program has successfully been built upon. Backtrack Boys documentary is a powerful way to reach educators and professionals and promote discussion and learning in their practice.

If you are a teacher, youth worker, child protection worker or work in juvenile justice or education please email if you would like to register your interest in a educational and professional screening toolkit.