Bernie Shakeshaft, Founder, BackTrack Youth Works
In 2006, Bernie founded the organisation with just a shed, a passionate crew of volunteers and a mission to keep kids alive, out of jail and chasing their hopes and dreams. Fifteen years later, BackTrack has gained national recognition for engaging, educating, training, and employing vulnerable young people. The organisation offers young people the holistic, flexible and long-term support they need to get their lives back on track through educational, training and diversionary activities, transitional employment, residential accommodation and youth work. Bernie plays an active role in setting the organisation’s strategic direction as Managing Director. Bernie has been named Australian of the Year Local Hero (2020) and National Rural Health Alliance Unsung Hero (2019) and has received the Spera Australian Rural Education Award (2018), the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award (2017), the Churchill Fellowship (2014) and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of New England (2020). He and BackTrack have also been the subject of the award-winning documentary ‘Backtrack Boys’ and the ‘Back on Track’ biography.