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13 May 2024 - More kids, more towns, more empathy in Oz...

The place to go for conversations about the news

The place to go for conversations about the news

G’day Squizers. With all the news of late about youth crime, gendered violence, and incarceration rates, I’ve found myself asking - I wonder what Bernie thinks?

Bernie Shakeshaft founded an organisation called BackTrack in 2006. Based out of Armidale in NSW, it’s a community-led place for young people who are having a tough time. You might have already come across Backtrack, but if you haven’t, it’s an organisation that does whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to help kids who need it. And it’s been a huge success.

More than 1,000 kids have gone through the BackTrack program, and one study found that in its first year, Armidale’s youth crime rates fell by 38%. Bernie has been recognised for his work at many levels and was awarded the Australian of the Year Local Hero in 2020. 

I left this interview with more questions than answers, but I guess that’s the point of listening - to better understand the complexities of issues and then want to ask more, to understand more deeply. So, with that perspective, I hope you get as much from this conversation as I did - you can listen to it here.

In addition to that chat, our Club Picks this week are:

  1. This piece on ABC online which looks at the data around youth offender rates and the various solutions being offered. 

  2. This March report by Adam Harvey for ABC TV’s 7.30 on the NSW town of Moree highlights what living with high rates of youth crime on your doorstep is like. (Note: we interviewed Adam previously on News Club about reporting from conflict zones…)

  3. BackTrack Boys is the 2018 award-winning documentary about founder Bernie Shakeshaft and the young people he is trying to help. A recent follow-up looks at their journey a few years on - watch the original trailer here.

  4. The AFR Magazine featured Bernie in their latest philanthropy edition. If you don’t have time for the doco or our News Club interview, this is an easy way to get across what he has built/is building. 

Your friend in news
Kate Watson

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