NSW Nationals Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall says he was barking for joy with the announcement of a $286,781 grant to expand facilities at BackTrack’s base at Armidale.

An innovative and highly successful youth organisation that reconnects young people with education and training, BackTrack’s student base has increased dramatically in recent times, with the organisation outgrowing its current facilities and needing additional space that is more youth focussed.

“Bernie Shakeshaft and his team have been operating out of the old Armidale Council depot since 2006, teaching at risk youth agricultural and trade skills which will help them enter the workforce,” Mr Marshall said.

“The make up of BackTrack has changed greatly over 14 years, with young women now as much part of the program as men.

“I’m pleased to say this grant will allow the construction of a new amenities block to cater for both male and females, a kitchen and common area for everyone to hang out in and a brand new showroom for students to display their talented work.”

A dedicated space will also be established to provide social and sporting activities which previously were not available on site due to it being a workshop.

New office space will also be created to cater for BackTracks 20 staff members.

“An exciting component of this project is BackTrack’s very own own social enterprise BT Works will be employed as a sub-contractor on the job, creating employment and training opportunities for people within that program,” Mr Marshall said.

“The facility on Waterfall Way is the only home many of our region’s young people know, and in many cases is the first place they truly feel a sense of belonging and even family. I hope this expansion will allow Bernie to continue his great work and continue to teach the BackTrack way.”