GUNNEDAH Shire Council is to throw its weight behind a program aimed at helping disadvantage and “at risk” youth in the region.
The Trelawney Project is a proposal put forward by the Armidale-based BackTrack organisation.
The project will see a pilot program in the Gunnedah, Tamworth and Quirindi areas based on the highly
successful model set up by former Gunnedah Shire Youth worker,
Bernie Shakeshaft, in Armidale.
Mr Shakeshaft kicked off the project in 2006 and over the past seven years, around 300 youth have been through the program with more than 80 per cent being successful in gaining employment at its conclusion.
Just as significant is the fact that there has been a quantifiable reduction of more than 20 per cent in
youth-related crime in Armidale during the same period.
At a recent meeting at the property “Trelawney” near Somerton, earlier this month, Mr Shakeshaft outlined the objective of the program .
The program is aimed at re-engaging identified “at risk” youth in communities which involves them undertaking a TAFE VET qualification course and various agriculture-based worked.
Trelawney is owned by the Indigenous Land Council which is providing the extensive training facilities for a peppercorn rental.
The meeting held at Trelawney on April 2 was attended by Mayor Hasler, Federal MP Tony Windsor, MLC Sarah Mitchell, Tamworth Regional Council Mayor, Col Murray and Liverpool Plains Shire Mayor Ian Lobsey as well as Bernie Shakeshaft, representatives of the TAFE, Jobs Australia, UNSW, and various Indigenous Land Councils.
The BackTrack organisation is to provide the administration and facilitate the program with the support of the Department of Education and TAFE.
In his Mayoral Minute to last night’s monthly meeting, Cr Owen Hasler praised the project, saying it was worthy of council’s full support.
“Some 50 students have been identified for the program at Gunnedah High School and the three high schools in Tamworth at this stage in order to start the program on April 29,” said Cr Hasler.
At this stage it is envisaged that up to 60 students could be catered to, comprising 40 male and 20 female.
Cr Hasler’s recommendations received the full support of council which agreed to provide one-third of the cost of a 22-25 seater mini bus to a maximum of $20,000 with the
balance to be provided by Tamworth Regional Council.
Council also moved to provide an amount of up to $10,000 per year for the next two financial years (2013/14 and 2014/15) for the general expenses of the BackTrack Trelawney Project.