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  • Hachette Australia
  • Hachette Australia

Back on Track: How one man and his dogs are changing the lives of rural kids

Bernie Shakeshaft, James Knight

2 Reviews

Rated 0

Biography

A thought-provoking and heart-warming story of how one man (and his working dogs) is giving rural kids, on their last chance, a second chance.

As a kid, Bernie Shakeshaft's mischievous and reckless behaviour led him to became known as the wild one of his devout Catholic family. It isn't surprising that his path led him to the Northern Territory, a place where people often go to either lose themselves or find themselves. Bernie, a searcher for his purpose in life, found himself.

He had many jobs, firstly as a ringer on a cattle station owned by the Packer family, and later as a dingo trapper for the Parks and Wildlife Service. Throughout it all, he drank, he swore, he fought, and took chances with his own well-being. But, crucially, he also developed deep connections with the Indigenous people, and it was these connections that helped lay the foundations for what was to come. He worked for youth welfare organisations, and all the while he built up his knowledge about helping wayward youths, particularly those from Indigenous communities.

Years later, Bernie was living in Armidale. He'd been visiting too many kids in prison and going to too many funerals. The usual methods weren't working so that reckless, mischievous kid inside him decided he could do better. He started a youth program called BackTrack, with three aims: To keep them alive, out of jail and chasing their hopes and dreams.

For most, this was their last chance. Combining life skills, education, job preparedness with rural work,

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Praise for Back on Track: How one man and his dogs are changing the lives of rural kids

  • This fella Bernie, he's a good fella, a bit of a genius really. What a great story. - Russell Crowe about the documentary, BackTrack Boys

  • Fuelled by Shakeshaft's earthy charisma, buoyancy and colourful language, Back on Track interweaves the tale of his reckless, troubled youth and how he found his feet, with vignettes from daily life at BackTrack and the stories of the kids whose lives have been transformed - Sydney Morning Herald

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