There’s a track winding back...
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.dubbofilmmakers.com/event/backtrack-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.
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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
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