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BackTrack Youth Works recognised for addressing the underlying contributors of juvenile crime

Media release

19 October 2017

BackTrack Youth Works today received a gold award in the community-led category of the 2017 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA).

The ACVPAs recognise best practice in the prevention or reduction of violence and other types of crime in Australia.

“BackTrack Youth Works is honoured to receive this prestigious award,” said CEO and Founder Bernie Shakeshaft.

“Since we started in 2006 we have concentrated on involving our young people in positive activities that engage and interest them and which give them skills and qualifications for work or further study.

“The emphasis is also on helping them overcome their personal issues and to contribute to the community. Research from four universities through an ARC grant has revealed a significant drop in youth crime in the Armidale Dumaresq local government region and this is attributed to BackTrack’s programs which give these troubled young people a better alternative to engaging in anti-social behaviour,” said Mr Shakeshaft.

These annual awards recognise the outstanding contributions being made across Australia for crime prevention, including the development and implementation of practical projects to reduce violence and other types of crime in the community.

“BackTrack Youth Works is a very effective initiative targeting young people at risk or involved in the youth justice system,” said acting Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) Director, Nicole Rose PSM.

“Their multi-faceted model addresses major criminogenic risks through case management, residential support and re-connecting youth with education or employment—and is a model that could be effectively adapted and applied to other areas.”

All projects are assessed each year by the ACVPA Board, which consists of senior law enforcement representatives from each state and territory police service, and chaired by the acting AIC Director.

New South Wales ACVPA Board representative, Chief Superintendent Brad Shepherd, said the BackTrack Youth program delivers a range of diversionary activities for youth from the criminal justice system through case management, education and personal security.  

“Indigenous youth are considerably over-represented in the Criminal Justice System and by addressing criminogenic risk factors, this program contributes to a reduction in juvenile crime and safer communities,” said Chief Superintendent Shepherd.

The awards are a joint initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments, coordinated by the AIC and co-sponsored by the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council.
To learn more about the 2017 Gold ACVPA winners, watch this video.

For more information about the award winners, visit

To view the latest crime and justice statistics visit

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