Significant financial support for BackTrack’s new disaster recovery program, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, BackTrack founder Bernie Shakeshaft, with participants Luke Rankine, Zac Craig and Jack Ackling.
Friday, 23 July 2021
AN innovative disaster recovery initiative focused on the rapid rebuilding of bushfire-affected farm infrastructure is being rolled out in three northern NSW local government areas, with Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall this week announcing $285,430 in government support for the BackTrack Youth Works’ new training program and meeting some of its participants.
“When the smoke had cleared after the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, a question faced by all affected landholders was where to start in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed in the blaze,” Mr Marshall said.
“Utilising its young work-force, BackTrack Works was quick to mobilise to fire-grounds along the range between Tenterfield and Ebor, contacting farmers and offering assistance during their rebuild.
“Having worked continuously on these projects for the last eighteen months BackTrack is now using its experience to establish a flexible workforce model that can be applied in any community.
“The model has been successful due to collaboration with the Department Primary Industries, Resilience NSW, local councils, philanthropic supporters and grass roots community support.
“This grant will be spent training 20 young people in the Armidale Regional, Tenterfield and Clarence Valley Shires, providing them with practical skills like fencing, construction and fabrication which can be deployed when the next disaster strikes or applied day to day for farm work.
“The vision is to establish three strategically located workforces that can quickly be mobilised to support disaster recovery effort anywhere in north-east NSW.
“Additionally the project will develop a resource for future organisations and communities to download for replication of the model.
“Together, we have learnt so much about the need for better systems to support bushfire preparedness, recovery and resilience.
“I think it’s outstanding to see those learnings now being used to develop practical solutions which can be applied in future disasters.”
NSW Department of Primary Industries Recovery Officer Greg Mills said working closely with BackTrack had meant that communities and individuals had received meaningful on ground help on their journey to recovery to the impact of the 2019/20 bushfires.
“It has been great to have BackTrack working on the ground with us in our Bushfire impacted communities,” Mr Mills said.
“Not only are fences, yards and buildings being rebuilt, the teams bring new enthusiasm and hope to people as they are recovering from the bushfires.
“Every communities that has been visited by BackTrack has been left with more enthusiasm and resilience to rebuild after the bushfires.
“There is more to the impact of the BackTrack team than rebuilding fences, yards and buildings.”
Mr Marshall thanked BackTrack for the work it has done in rebuilding more than 180 kilometres of fence-line since they started work in January 2020.
“I know for a fact there are farmers in our region who would still be fencing today, if not for the generosity of organisations like BackTrack and BlazeAid,” he said.
“The region’s agriculture sector is incredibly grateful to the collaborative work BackTrack Works has completed to enable primary producers to get back on their feet quicker and earning an income.
“I want to thank each and every one of BackTrack’s participants for their efforts during ongoing bushfire recovery.”