A GROUP of rural industry leaders have thrown their support behind the BackTrack program earmarked for the Somerton property “Trelawney”, by discussing valuable training opportunities for Indigenous youth and how to generate a viable income.
The new farm steering committee includes a livestock advisor, agronomist, water and irrigation specialist, heavy machinery advisor, farm mechanic, natural resource advisor and a local farmer.
Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council and BackTrack have a joint venture to lease “Trelawney” at Somerton, and have developed “The Trelawney Project” which aims to support youth in the Tamworth and Gunnedah areas.
The project is based on the highly successful model set up by former Gunnedah Shire Youth Worker, Bernie Shakeshaft in Amidale.
It works with young people to offer complementary programs that allow disadvantaged and at risk youth to reach their full potential, and will include nationally accredited agricultural courses.
The first group of youth will start on Monday, May 20.
Trelawney Farm Manager, Craig Watton, said “we really wanted to build a strong foundation for the success of this program and believed that it was imperative to involve experts in farm management and the day-to-day operation of a viable, profitable working and training operation”.
“We mean business and wanted to get the best advice from the start from those involved in the agriculture sector and from local farmers who earn a living on the land,” Mr Watton said.
Bernie Shakeshaft said this type of project had been implemented in other places and was very successful in turning around the fortunes of young people who had strayed away from formal education.
“The groups will hit the ground running getting a handle on what sorts of opportunities there are in farm work – from learning how to fence, plant and irrigate crops, to fixing machinery.
“The first project to kick us off will be fencing off the Peel River from stock, planting trees and putting in alternative water points for the stock. The funding for this came from Namoi CMA,” he said.
Members of the group agreed that the project is a fantastic idea and the property is in an ideal location to benefit the Tamworth, Gunnedah and Quirindi communities.
The group is also looking forward to assisting with such things as advice on what crops to plant, running cropping trials and sharing their expertise with BackTrack participants
A community meeting will be held from 7pm on May 22, 2013 at the Tamworth Community Centre Darling Street for any interested people who would like to find out more or lend a hand with advice or donate materials or machinery.