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How 2020’s Australian Local Hero uses dogs to keep at-risk youth out of jail

Deborah Knight
Article image for How 2020’s Australian Local Hero uses dogs to keep at-risk youth out of jail

Bernie Shakeshaft has been named Australian Local Hero for dedicating himself to helping at-risk youth.

A number of outstanding Aussies were given awards for their contribution to society this Australia Day.

Among them was Bernie Shakeshaft, who founded BackTrack Youth Works to help at-risk teenagers stay out of jail and learn vital skills so they can find work.

He tells Deborah Knight he was “gobsmacked” to hear he’d been named Australian Local Hero.

On top of teaching the kids in his program vital trade skills, he uses 30 working dogs to help keep them occupied and out of jail.

“We started taking our dogs and kids travelling around to regional country shows, competing in working dog high jump and it wasn’t long before we were hardly ever going into court again.”

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview

Image: Getty/Wendell Teodoro

Deborah Knight
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