When it comes to mental wellness in Australia, how do we know how well we are progressing as a whole?
With over 25 years of youth work experience under his belt, this week’s guest Bernie Shakeshaft believes young people are the most accurate barometer of how we are faring as a nation.
In the early days of his career, Bernie saw kids dropping out of school, getting into trouble and falling through the cracks of a system that couldn't meet their complex needs. Founding the organisation BackTrack was his solution, supporting youth at risk to stay alive, out of jail and chase their hopes and dreams.
In 2006, Bernie founded the organisation with just a shed, a passionate crew of volunteers and a desire to make a real difference for young people doing it tough. Since then, BackTrack has gained national recognition for its holistic, flexible and long-term model and set a gold standard for youth work across the country. After holding the position of CEO for 15 years, Bernie continues to play an active role in setting the organisation's strategic direction in his capacity as founder, board director and member of the Executive team.
Bernie has been named Australian of the Year Local Hero (2020) and National Rural Health Alliance Unsung Hero (2019) and received the Spera Australian Rural Education Award (2018), the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award (2017), the Churchill Fellowship (2014) and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of New England (2020). He and BackTrack have also been the subject of the award-winning documentary 'Backtrack Boys' and biography 'Back on Track'.
Stay tuned to find out more about BackTrack, and Bernie’s work advocating for marginalised youth.