Bernie’s vision is for a country where disadvantaged youth have the support, opportunities and community connections they need to participate in society in a meaningful way.
With over 25 years’ experience working with some of the most disadvantaged young people in rural Australia, Bernie certainly knows a thing or two about what it takes to make real impact and achieve life-changing results for young people. Determined to turn his vision into a reality, Bernie founded BackTrack – an innovative program helping young people break the cycle of abuse, family dislocation, drug or alcohol abuse. Based on the simple premise of mateship, a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose, Bernie started BackTrack with nothing except the determination to make a real difference.
BackTrack fills critical service gaps that currently exist in rural communities and works to address a range of social problems, including alternatives to lockup, education for kids disengaged from the education system, safe accommodation for homeless young people, pathways to reengage with community and achieve real life skills and pathways to employment. Bernie has witnessed the growth of so many young people in the community and as he says, “For confirmation that BackTrack works, trot down to the Shed anytime and look into the faces of our champion young people, and prepare to be inspired…”
Bernie was awarded Australian of the Year - Local Hero for 2020