There’s a track wind­ing back...

Dubbo Photo News - - Dubbo Weekender -

I’VE re­ported on many state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment pro­grams over the years and too many have been box-tick­ing ex­er­cises.

The Back­track Pro­gram is not at all like that, and the proof’s more than in the pud­ding – in this case, it’s in the dam­per.

Here’s the of­fi­cial spiel for the “Back­track Boys” doc­u­men­tary set to screen in Dubbo this month as part of the DREAM Fes­ti­val – this pro­gram re­ally is clear­ing hur­dles and turn­ing lives around.

“A group of trou­bled boys are on a per­ilous course to­wards jail un­til they meet up with the rough talk­ing, free-wheel­ing jacka­roo, Bernie Shake­shaft, and hit the road with his leg­endary dog jump­ing team.

“This ob­ser­va­tional doc­u­men­tary, filmed over two years, fol­lows boys in a youth pro­gram that Bernie runs from a shed on the out­skirts of Ar­mi­dale, a ru­ral town in Aus­tralia.

“In the last ten years over 500 kids have walked through the Back­track doors and in that same time the lo­cal crime rate has dropped by more than 50 per cent.

“It’s an al­ter­na­tive to de­ten­tion and suc­ceeds where oth­ers have failed.

“This ob­ser­va­tional doc­u­men­tary fol­lows Bernie’s leg­endary dog jump­ing team, which started out as a way to teach kids self-dis­ci­pline, but now the dogs have be­come the na­tional cham­pi­ons.

“On the road the boys camp out un­der the stars but the trauma from the past is never too far away.

“They must con­stantly step up and push them­selves and some days can be hard.

“Filmed over two years, this in­spir­ing com­ing of age story re­veals the chal­lenges th­ese young peo­ple face as they try to find their place in the world – all with the help of Bernie and his trusted dogs in tow.”

The Dubbo Film­mak­ers, in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Mac­quarie Credit Union DREAM Fes­ti­val, will screen the doco on Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 20, 2.45-4.15pm at the Dubbo Re­gional The­atre and Con­ven­tion Cen­tre (DRTCC).

It’s free to at­tend, but you must book via www.dub­bofilm­mak­­track-boysspe­cial-screen­ing-free-event

Don’t miss it. SPEAK­ING of dream­ing, it’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve it’s that time of year again.

There’ll be plenty on dur­ing this year’s DREAM Fes­ti­val, and it’s im­por­tant that as many lo­cals sup­port this event as pos­si­ble.

Last year’s Lantern Pa­rade was spec­tac­u­lar, hope­fully that sig­na­ture event will again see such a strong turn-out of lo­cals. THE fa­mous over­head horse is back just in time for a royal frolic.

This poor old nag had a his­tory of lo­cal “plankers” do­ing af­ter-pub­hours planks on it af­ter climb­ing up onto its Tal­bra­gar Street shop awning above Marsh Car­ney, and there were plenty who pre­tended they were rid­ing a buck­ing bronc as well.

The semi-sen­sa­tion did the bolt one Fri­day night, avid lo­cal lis­ten­ers to their po­lice scan­ners hear­ing that it had been “seen trav­el­ling in an east­erly di­rec­tion along Tal­bra­gar Street with three of­fend­ers at­tached”.

Shortly af­ter­wards it was spot­ted en­joy­ing a beer at the Com­mer­cial Ho­tel be­fore ul­ti­mately tak­ing a swim in the wa­ter fea­ture at El­ston Park.

Cor­nered by the con­stab­u­lary, it was then no­ticed in the foyer of Dubbo po­lice sta­tion with a note placed around its neck that read: “If you can see this spot­ted pink horse there is no need for a breath test – you are drunk!”

It’s ru­moured the horse could get up to some right royal tricks in the next week, and if Prince Harry de­cides to do a polo-plank on it, I’ll let you know. THERE’S been a bit in the news about the Aus­tralasian Meat In­dus­try Em­ploy­ees’ Union (AMIEU) and its claims that Dubbo’s Fletcher In­ter­na­tional favours over­seas work­ers over lo­cals.

It’s an easy head­line but it’s about as fake as it gets, and I can tell you this from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

In the past year I’ve been go­ing out to Fletch­ers on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to write pro­files on its em­ploy­ees, both Aus­tralian and over­seas work­ers, to high­light to the Dubbo re­gion just how many op­por­tu­ni­ties there are out at the abat­toir, grain ter­mi­nal and farm­ing op­er­a­tions.

One rea­son I’m do­ing this is be­cause the Fletcher fam­ily, three gen­er­a­tions of them, are in­cred­i­bly con­cerned that they can’t find enough Aussie work­ers and have been forced to at­tract in­ter­na­tional visa hold­ers to Aus­tralia to fill those po­si­tions.

I li­aise with the HR and WHS guys out there when I’m on the premises and I’ve seen the be­yond in­cred­i­ble lengths so many of the staff go to in their ef­forts to fill jobs lo­cally.

As to union claims that many lo­cal job providers reckon they’ve got peo­ple ready to work out there, I call “fake news”, and big-time “fake news” at that.

One day I was do­ing yarns and the plant man­ager, who has a hec­tic sched­ule, spent three hours with a cou­ple of teenage Indige­nous blokes who were work­ing out there but had lost their lift to work.

He spent a heap of time walk­ing with them around the plant to see which other em­ploy­ees could of­fer them the 30 minute lift to and from work each day; he teed up the school bus to cart them to and from work if nec­es­sary, and was pre­pared to mod­ify their hours to suit the school run if that’s what it took to keep them em­ployed.

This is one of a mul­ti­tude of things I’ve seen first-hand, so I’m not go­ing to be­lieve am­bit claims from some out of town union of­fi­cials just be­cause they want a story in the pa­per.

If the AMIEU wants to get in touch with me, feel free, my con­tact de­tails are al­ways at the bot­tom of this col­umn, but be pre­pared for a dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion where I’ll be putting the bur­den of proof fair and square on you. IT was Ukele­les at 10 paces when the crew from Sim­ply Ukes in Or­ange made the road-trip up to Dubbo to bat­tle it out with their lo­cal coun­ter­parts.

Maybe the term bat­tle is too strong, it was more of a friendly col­lab­o­ra­tion ac­cord­ing to Or­ange or­gan­iser Lee Brit­ton.

“It’s good fun, we’ve got quite a thriv­ing group in Or­ange, we prac­tice at the con­ser­va­to­rium and mem­bers also come through U3A (Univer­sity of the Third Age),” Mrs Brit­ton said.

“Play­ing the ukulele is great fel­low­ship, the best thing about ukulele is that ev­ery­one can just do it and have fun, you don’t have to be a greatly skilled mu­si­cian and it’s good for us with thick fin­gers.”

The crew cer­tainly seemed to be hav­ing fun. I MET for­mer Indige­nous Olympic dis­cus medal­list Benn Har­ra­dine this week. He was up in Dubbo with his dad to run a coach­ing clinic for kids and coaches from across the re­gion.

I’ll write more on this in next week’s edi­tion, but what a great bloke he is, and what a great mes­sage he and his dad, Olympic-level coach Ken, have when it comes to mak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able for coun­try kids.

z Send your news tips to or 0429 452 245 txt is best

z Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Dubbo Photo News staff. Note: John Ryan is also a coun­cil­lor on Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil, and is also em­ployed part-time by Land­care. He writes here in his ca­pac­ity as a jour­nal­ist.

Bernie Shake­shaft in Dubbo last year. His “Back­track Boys” doc­u­men­tary will screen as part of the DREAM Fes­ti­val in Dubbo this month. PHOTO: PHOTO NEWS

Ukelele player Lee Brit­ton

Just in time for the royal visit, the CBD’S best known horse is back with its first floor view. PHOTO: PHOTO NEWS

Send your news tips to or 0429 452 245 txt is best

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