The life-impacting work of former Gunnedah youth officer Bernie Shakeshaft has been recognised at the NSW Business Awards.
BackTrack Youth Works won the Social Enterprise of the Year award on Friday night 12 years after Mr Shakeshaft birthed the unique program in 2006.
The youth program is aimed at getting at-risk kids onto “positive life pathways” and has already attracted a slew of awards and funding this year on top of the release of an acclaimed feature-length documentary.
The chamber’s New England regional manager Joe Townsend was full of praise for BackTrack.
“As this year’s winner of Excellence in Social Enterprise, BackTrack Youth Works should feel incredibly proud to be a business leader in the field of social excellence,” Mr Townsend said.
“In 2018 there were 172 finalists competing against 16 regions, with BackTrack’s purpose and sustainability a clear standout.
“Given the calibre of finalists this year, each of the entrants from the New England North West should be extremely proud to of excelled at the 2018 State Business Awards.”
BackTrack likened its win and rise in notoriety through 2018 to a “ David and Goliath story”.
“Massive thanks to all our staff and the legends that give our boys and girls a start in their first job,” the organisation posted on social media.
“What a community we are lucky enough to live in.”
BackTrack has recorded remarkable improvements in its kids across a range of markers, which cover a lot more than simply employment rates.
After six months in the program, BackTrack participants boasted, on average, an increased school attendance by 66 per cent, reduced suspensions from school by 70 per cent and a 50 per cent decrease in severe psychological distress.