Elders Gunnedah and the BackTrack boys from Armidale have come together to help bushfire victims from Tooraweenah.
Elders co-ordinated donations from clients to purchase fencing materials, which the BackTrack boys – a group of young people putting their lives “back on track” – are using to construct fences in the fire-affected area.
“We have been ringing around trying to find agistment for fire victims and the idea for fencing materials progressed from there,” Elders stock and station agent Nik Hannaford said.
“Around six clients have made substantial donations already and we were able to purchase star pickets, ringlock and wire at cost price to help the BackTrackers with re-fencing the area.
“Lauren Zell, who was originally from Tooraweenah, put us onto BackTrack, who have volunteered to re-fence farm boundaries.”
BackTracks mission is “to offer young people who have lost their way an opportunity to reconnect with their education and training, to become work ready, find jobs, lead happy and productive lives and participate fully in the community”.
Through BackTracks AgLads program, young people are given the opportunity to acquire accredited skills in fencing, stock handling, heavy machinery and other skills, where they can obtain a Certificate II in Rural Operations.
Twenty-three young men, aged 13-20 years who participate in the program are now helping farmers re-build fences, after some having lost everything.
BackTrack AgLads co-ordinator, Dusty Fenn leads the team and said the experience is a good morale booster for the boys.
“Some people have lost everything out there,” Dusty said.
“Our boys have grown up with nothing and seen a lot of hardship in their lives and are able to relate to some of the fire victims.
“They were keen to help out these people and this is what we can do,” he said.
“We decided to help Tooraweenah victims as they are a smaller township and don’t seem to receive as much help.”
The BackTrack team has also been involved with moving stock from areas as water has been badly affected by ash.
The team are averaging three kilometres of fencing a day and expect to stay in the area for around two weeks.
Nik Hannaford said clients from the Walcha area have generously offered to donate a number of rams and ewes once the fencing is complete.
The BackTrack team is also known for its program Pawsup, a dog jumping team that trains award-winning border collies that put on demonstrations at agricultural shows and community events, including Gunnedah Show.
On Saturday evening, the Pawsup team will put on a demonstration for the Tooraweenah community near the park in the main street.
Anyone wanting to donate towards the purchase of fencing materials can contact Elders Gunnedah on 6742 0611.