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The Issue

For young people in regional Australia, factors such as school attendance, mental health, a lack of positive relationships with adults, socio-economic status and family stress all contribute to disengagement from school and becoming entrenched in long-term disadvantage.

The mainstream school training and employment systems are not set up to support the multiple needs of these young people, for whom it is often safer to be ‘bad’ than ‘dumb’. Through no fault of their own, these young people can end up in high risk situations such as homelessness, substance abuse and incarceration.

BackTrack’s approach

BackTrack works with young people aged mostly between 12-18 years old in rural and regional communities to help them to ‘stay alive, out of jail, and chase their hopes and dreams’.

The program provides an alternative pathway to employment by recognising the importance of social and emotional skills as well as practical and technical skills in securing and holding down a job. BackTrack gives disengaged young people the support they need to get ‘back on track’ so they can stabilise their lives, build self-esteem and develop the learning skills they need to maintain meaningful employment.

What's innovative about it

Creates belonging

Creates an environment of trust – “you can’t get kicked out of BackTrack” – where young people feel like they belong. This leads to increased engagement, positive behaviour and wellbeing.

Wholistic support

Addresses the multiple needs of young people, which may include accommodation, support with the justice system, mental health, and individualised mentoring.

Flexible and long-term

Allows young people to develop at their own pace, focusing initially on a person’s wellbeing needs, and over time increases support aligned to education, training and employment.

Future focused

Provides education and training programs that focus on work readiness and technical skills needed for employment. BT Works uses a social enterprise model to support the transition into mainstream employment.

Meet 'Kiwi'

Kiwi grew-up in the out-of-home-care system. When he turned 18 and left the system, he experienced homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and regular contact with the police. He described the boredom and pointlessness of life that he was feeling as being a weight too heavy to bare. His only solution to dealing with this pain was drugs.

Kiwi arrived at BackTrack with significant barriers to employment and more than five years of unemployment and disengagement from training. He had poor experiences with employment agencies, was stuck in a negative cycle of long-term unemployment and struggled with mental health.

BackTrack’s social enterprise BT Works was able to offer Kiwi a new pathway and purpose in life. Today he worked across a range of areas – carpentry, agricultural and fabrication and has been employed for 18 months.

Without this opportunity, Kiwi would probably still be unemployed, homeless and dealing with drug, alcohol and mental health challenges.

Through BT Works, he is provided support with the ongoing challenges he faces. He gains real-world practical experience that builds both his soft and technical work readiness skills.

These are the foundations needed by young people like Kiwi to transition out of a life of crime, homelessness and severe disadvantage.

Meet 'Kiwi'

Positive impact so far


young people supported


of young people are engaged in some form of education or training


hours of work experience and training undertaken with industry partners


hours of paid employment completed


young people employed under BT Works


communities delivering BackTrack-style programs

Working together

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Working together

Sustainable Development Goals

3 - Good Health and Well-Being
4 - Quality Educations
8 - Decent Work and Econmonic Growth

Proud funding partners

  • 4 Bevans Foundation
  • Andrew and Prue Kennard
  • Collier Trust
  • Flack Trust
  • Macquarie Group Foundation
  • The Magnolia Foundation
  • Rebecca Gorman and John Sevior
  • Sally Foundation

To learn more contact