Documentary Australia

Backtrack Boys

Case Study

Troubled boys are on a perilous course towards jail until they meet a freewheeling Jackaroo and his dog jump team


A group of troubled boys are on a perilous course towards jail until they meet up with the free-wheeling jackaroo, Bernie Shakeshaft, and hit the road with his legendary dog jumping team. This observational documentary follows boys in a youth program BackTrack that Bernie runs from a shed on the outskirts of Armidale, Australia.


17 festivals, 200 community screenings, 220k broadcast viewers


“It’s really special. Go and see it. Write stories about it. Tell your friends. This fella Bernie, he’s a good fella, a bit of a genius really. What a great story”- Russel Crowe


Best Documentary at Sydney Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival


Educational screenings mapped to the curriculum, Advocate for the #RaisetheAge campaign

Outcome Snapshot

Backtrack Boys has been incredibly successful at increasing awareness of and empathy for vulnerable and at-risk youth and their experiences.

Survey feedback provided by thousands of audience members across Australia found that 99% were emotionally affected by the documentary and had increased awareness of youth programs and support options for young people at risk of juvenile detention. In addition, 99% had an improved understanding of the need to divert young people from juvenile detention, and the importance of adopting whole-of-community responses to ensure young people aren’t falling through the cracks.

The film motivated audiences to take action, with almost half of survey respondents reporting that they would like to take a variety of actions including donating to youth initiatives and signing the #RaiseTheAge petition.