Media ReleaseMinderoo Foundation11 Feb 2020

Farmers and young people to get fire-ravaged fences back on track

Today, Minderoo Foundation has committed $25,000 through the Fire Fund to support BackTrack’s work in Nymboida, NSW.

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BackTrack CEO Bernie Shakeshaft (far left) and Minderoo Chairman Andrew Forrest (second from left) with the Fire Fund and BackTrack teams.

Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund is supporting Armidale-based youth education and employment program, BackTrack, to work with local farmers to replace damaged fencing in northern New South Wales. 

Minderoo Foundation has agreed to support BackTrack with a $25,000 commitment from Fire Fund to help with fencing repairs in the Nymboida area.

Countless kilometres of fencing has been damaged or destroyed in the recent Australian bushfires. The loss of fencing has had a devastating impact on farmers, who are unable to keep their livestock safe and return to normal operations. 

Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger said it made sense for Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund to support effective local organisations such as BackTrack.

“Through our team’s work in fire-affected communities, we are repeatedly hearing there is a pressing need for replacement fencing,” Mr Hagger said. 

“The destruction of fencing is a major repercussion of this disaster, and an urgent priority for affected farming communities”. 

“Replacing fencing that has been destroyed by fire is a very expensive and time-consuming exercise.”

Mr Hagger said the opportunity to collaborate with BackTrack would have a lasting impact in bushfire impacted areas. 

Backtrack has been employing and training at-risk youth since 2006 and has a clear mission to “keep kids alive, out of jail and chasing their hopes and dreams”. The organisation has made impressive in-roads in Armidale, with 87 per cent of participants gaining either full-time employment or training and education.

BackTrack CEO, Bernie Shakeshaft, was recently named “Australia’s Local Hero” at the 2020 Australian of the Year awards in honour of BackTrack’s work. Mr Shakeshaft said program participants were proud to be helping the bushfire recovery effort and excited to join the wider Fire Fund project.

“Rebuilding these fences is crucial to getting affected communities back up and running,” Mr Shakeshaft said. 

“This support will provide the young people in our program with an opportunity to get back into work, give them a daily routine and allow them to learn new skills,” he said.
 
“We appreciate Minderoo Foundation’s support, and we’re looking forward to working together to assist this part of NSW to rebuild.”

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation
Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with seven key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.
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