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Outreach   /  Lisa Hancock

Backtrack Boys

Troubled boys are on a perilous course towards jail until they meet a free-wheeling jackaroo and his dog jump team.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Catherine Scott

  • PRODUCER Catherine Scott



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.
Backtrack Boys is an inspiring and life-affirming documentary about alternative programs to juvenile detention. The film documents the journey of the kids in BackTrack, and how this alternative program helps them to navigate their relationships, deal with personal trauma, take responsibility, gain practical job skills so they can eventually create a sustainable future for themselves.

Support this project

78.97% funded
  • $500,000.00

  • $394,825.00

  • December 2020

  • 72


Campaign will be started within


Margaret Graham $100.00
Anonymous $25.00
Danielle Maddaford $50.00
Duncan Hall $100.00
Deborah Oliver $100.00
Morgan Bloodworth $50.00
Valeria Scoponi $100.00
Geraldine Slattery $50.00
Collette Dowling $100.00
Anonymous $100.00
Anne Page $100.00
Jean Wortley $100.00
Sally White $500.00
Jo Chichester $50.00
Ahri Tallon $200.00
Marnie Sole $100.00
Ben Guerin $100.00
Cameron Sugden $50.00
Carol Cooper $5.00
Dione Baird $20.00
Ros Rondel $25.00
Dave Robinson $20.00
Anonymous $20.00
Christopher Daw $20.00
Darryl Coulthard $200.00
Christine Corbidge $50.00
James N Kirby Foundation $7,500.00
Kerry Thomson $250.00
The Jack Brockhoff Foundation $30,000.00
mitty williams $100.00
Haley Lambert $50.00
Jennifer Strauss $50.00
Matthew Ringrose $290.00
Anonymous $50.00
Anonymous $25.00
Prue Hughes $30.00
Anonymous $450.00
Collier Charitable Foundation $30,000.00
Wayne & Louise Whatman $100.00
Julia Mooser $200.00
Jane Ford $100.00
Wayne & Louise Whatman $0.00
Emma Cate $100.00
Anonymous $25.00
Deslyn Randall $100.00
Michael Boesen $50.00
Anonymous $500.00
Jackie Sailer $50.00
Anonymous $100.00
Andy Evans $100.00
John Postle $100.00
Sue Jorgensen $50.00
Anonymous $100.00
Anonymous $100.00
Anonymous $500.00
Nicky Nelson $40.00
Joanna Gee $100.00
Kate Endresz $100.00
debra barnard $100.00
Judith Young $100.00
David Armstrong $500.00
Anonymous $1,000.00
Anonymous $10.00
ray edwards $200.00
Jill Thompson-White $100.00
Anonymous $50.00
Natalie Hatchard $50.00
Scarlet's Fund $500.00
Jessica Steiger-Thorpe $200.00
Ralph Pliner $500.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Backtrack Boys documentary highlights key issues for young people. Youth are vulnerable to falling through the cracks and dropping out of mainstream education and can get caught up in the juvenile justice system. Children from as young at 10 can be incarcerated.

BackTrack Youth Works is an innovative program that keeps kids off the street and out of jail, breaks the cycle of drugs and alcohol and teaches young people to participate in the community. 1000+ kids have participated in the program and crime rates in Armidale have dropped by about 38% (one of only two towns in decline in Australia). This is a program that presents a real model for other rural towns.

Backtrack Boys film has an impact campaign program built around the film to help support young people and the challenges they are facing. Backtrack Boys is shifting public opinion, helping mobilise support and inspire action and the film can be used as a tool to inspire, educate, fundraise and collaborate!


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

“We hope the film will inspire communities to take a different approach to working with young people at risk of social exclusion, particularly in rural areas” Cathy Scott, Director
- Shine a light on BackTrack and youth programs around Australia
- Provide young people with a positive narrative & for the public to understand their situation
- Support anyone that works with young people to broaden their understanding and practice
- Support place based approaches in communities
- Advocacy


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Highlights of the campaign:
- 200,000 viewers on SBS & NITV

- 125 Community events so far and 400 requests

- $500,000 in additional funding for Backtrack from people who saw the film and learnt about the organisation

- New communities starting new youth programs

- Juvenile Detention Pilot Program in NSW, VIC and QLD led by officers working within the correctional facilities.

- Support for advocacy including a powerful screening with Amnesty’s Redfern Action Group around their ‘Community is Everything’ Campaign

- Being part NSW Dept of Communities and Justice Practice Conference where child protection practitioners and leaders were given the opportunity to meet kids from the BackTrack program

- Bernie won Australian Local Hero of the Year at the Australia Day Honours after being nominated by inmates in a correctional facility who used the film – how amazing!

- Educational study guide and resources are now available for schools, TAFES and professional learning


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

We also hope that the film will increase empathy and understanding of the issues young people are facing and young people in the audience reflect on their own circumstances and address needs


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

BackTrack Youth Works - feature in the film and supporting the campaign
Smart Justice for Young People, Victoria - advocacy coalition
Teach for Australia - supporting the films educational campaign reaching disadvantaged schools

Project Ready, Victoria - using the film in 8 schools in Victoria

Youth Action - support the film and campaign

The Reintegration Puzzle - have held webinars for learning place-based approaches

ATOM - Backtrack Boys have released free resources

#RaiseTheAge - the film is supporting this advocacy campaign

Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Detention Centres - are helping run educational programs

Backtrack Everywhere programs - new communities are starting new youth programs

New community programs - are being inspired by the film such as RuffTrack and RiverTrack

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

After seeing the film we hope people will TAKE ACTION to:

- Donate to Backtrack Youth Works
- Share the film with family and friends
- Start a conversation in their community about issues facing young people
- Volunteer in a youth organisation
- Find out more about BackTrack/local youth organisations
- Sign the #RaisetheAge petition
- Hosting a screening in their schools, communities or workplace
- Download the educational resources

Key groups can also use the film to:
- Fundraise
- Share the film to attract mentors and volunteers
- Implement prevention strategies and place-based approaches
- Use the film as a tool for training and education
- Advocate for local alternatives to incarceration
- Support young people

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

- Communities can connect and address issues in their local area
- Widespread awareness and empathy for young people
- Film is a tool for education, awareness, community and capacity building
- Community participation and support for youth organisations
- Young people feel better understood and supported