Farmer Dave is youngest of 11 kids and grew up on a beef cattle, cropping and sheep station that has grown to almost 100,000 acres. Like many restless bushies who deal with the intensity of droughts and floods he's tried to pack as much into his 40 years as possible.
He walked the catwalks and graced the billboards of Europe at 19, travelled to over 80 countries on a quest to understand the people and places of the planet, used reality TV to change people's views about gay Australians and raise awareness of the plight of drought stricken farmers, built a lamb business that changed the consumer producer relationships, built the worlds premier dog Disneyland and education facility, became an internationally recognised dog training expert and MC, introduced a plethora of dog sports to doglovers around the world and runs a host of education and entertainment platforms to build relationships between the city and country.
Let's just say he has done a lot, seen a lot, shared a lot and is able to articulate complex issues to people who are often unaware of what is going on outside their lives.
After working with the incredible team at BackTrack he has taken on their amazing philosophy of empowerment to young people in the city.
Born and bred locally with connections across the Hawkesbury, Georgia is currently studying a Bachelor of social work and has a passion for giving back and getting her hands dirty which is the perfect recipe for someone who came to us on placement, but we haven't let go.
With a country background and world travel experience she brings a maturity to the programme both at RuffTRACK Farm and our excursions across Australia.
Always an ear to listen Georgia also gives direction and guidence which keeps all participants on track to reach their full potential.
Georgia comes to us with a background in management and brings a vast knowledge of conflict resolution skills and practices.
Georgia is really excited to bring her knowledge to help change young peoples lives.
Anna has always had a love for dogs and a passion to help out young people.
Growing up on the surf coast of Victoria, Anna always had a dog by her side.
Anna has worked with disengaged youth in Logan for up to 3 years. Throughout her career Anna has;
Worked as a facilitator for a young people relationship program called Love Bites.
Became a Youth outreach officer, where she worked closely with her local community support workers and the council.
Not only does Anna have an amazing background in youth work, she has also had an incredible modeling and TV career. This career allows her to give or young people valuable insights into camera presence and confidence.
We are super excited to have Anna join the RuffTRACK team as she brings extensive knowledgeand compassion to our young people and the farm.
Support Adult & Sheep Herding expert
Mandy is our little grandma with a gigantic heart and incredible tenacity, being a full time carer for a van full of little kids, she is still dedicated to guide our RuffTRACK participants and their dogs through our Ten Step Sheep Herding weekly workshops.
With a history of living and working in a plethora of places and careers, her commitment for the care of others is a constant quality that she lives day in day out under all the hats that she wears.
As our literal whip cracker she shares bushcraft, her love of all things Australia, a good yarn, cooking skills, guidance on excursions, first aid and a connection to country life.
Support Adult & Dog Training expert
Casey started her love of dogs and training with one of those situations that is a great start to a novel... a 15 year old girl and an abused crazy and not quite right Mallinois in an RSPCA Shelter.
She went on to turn her dog Nikki's life around through dog spots from Treibball to DockDogs and every thing in between.
Becoming famous across the nations with the Muttley Crew performing in every state and major city, Casey has worked continuously in animal care. Currently she not just helps us at RuffTRACK but also works at Blacktown Animal Holding Facility and is at uni becoming a Paramedic.
She is not just an incredible trainer, but shows resilience and perseverance beyond what most people could endure yet always has a smile and a 'get on with it' attitude
HCOS Youth and Family Services worker
Dannii is a long time local with extensive knowledge and connections in the Hawkesbury community, but her international career in animal care has taken her across the globe several times over the past decade.
Working predominately with big cats and Australian natives in the past, our RuffTRACK team are now lucky that she has landed back on Aussie ground to help young people in need.
As an animal ambassador for Panthera Africa, a school teacher and a youth worker, Dannii is combining and utilising those skills to become a positive and connected role model for all.
Dannii is super excited to be bringing her animal care and youth work experience to the RuffTRACK Farm and is keen to enrich and inspire the lives of the young people and animals.
Youth Liaison Officer
Police Constable Belinda Flynn is a ten year veteran of the NSW Police Force across Eastwood, Mt Druitt and Hawkesbury Area Commands. As the Youth Liaison from Hawkesbury saw a massive need in the local community for the innovative and changing work of Bernie Shakeshaft and the BackTrack program and moved hell and high water to implement this unique approach in the Hawkesbury to ensure the gap in services was filled.
As a passionate advocate for building trust between youth and the police she believes that the BackTrack approach delivers on breaking down barriers and reduces anti-social behaviour within the community while empowering young people to re-engage in a safe environment with authority figures and reduces their involvement in the criminal justice system.
Uncle Ducky Fernando
A Kamilaroi Man from Northern NSW Trey 'Ducky' Fernando brings not only his understanding of traditional culture but the lived experience of the BackTrack success story.
As a youthworker Ducky guides the RuffTRACKers through our programs, empowering them through education and community.
Ducky performs our school outreach Program 'Connect to My Country', which allows for a deeper connection of primary school aged children across the whole Australian story. Sharing his experiences, knowledge and sense of belonging.
Uncle Zac Craig
Hailing from the heart of Australia Zac brings a deep connection to country and an appreciation for working together to bring us all up. He is a brilliant speaker is able to bridge the gaps that can exist between groups in a way that forges a sense of togetherness.
Having graduated through the BackTrack program, Zac has lived through what our young participants are currently experiencing and gives them guidance through a share journey.
Zac manages both our Connect to my Country and Outback Challenge which gives city based kids an appreciation for life west of the Great Divide.
Elaina is studying animal science at Western Sydney University and has a strong background in volunteering with young people around the globe and shares our ideals of the 'village raising the child'.
Elaina brings so much to our program including animal preparation for showing which will allow her to lead our livestock teams at shows, an ability to assist the self study days in animal science for our young people's qualifications this year, an absolute love of dogs and a whole lot of belief in education being the keys to unlocking your future and our shared journey.
Elaina is really excited us about what she can bring to our young people's lives. We can't thank her enough for helping with everything we do, not just all the stuff at RuffTRACK Farm... but our school incursions, our excisions to agriculture shows, circle work conversations and just being a non judgemental ear to hear what needs to be said.
Event Volunteer Coordinator
Judy Wong is our go-to person when our animals visit the vet for vaccinations or return with convalescing plans. Judy has an international career in communications, training and community development. After moving to the Hawkesbury and adopting her rescue beagle Memphis, Judy's passion for animal welfare is fuelled by her constant part-time enrolment in TAFE. She plans on owning a mobile vet that will merge her qualifications in HR, Accounting, IT, Companion Animals and Vet Nursing.
While developing a five year community-led Domestic Violence Action Plan for a council, Judy collaborated with the NSW Police, Nepean service providers and local community organisations to assist in the complex needs of troubled families.
After helping Farmer Dave and our RuffTRACK lads with their Dec 2019 Open Day, Judy decided to also pursue her Youth Worker certificate with the aim of creating innovative and sustainable revenue-raising projects for our lads and lassies. Two local Hawkesbury newspapers regularly publish Judy's media releases on RuffTRACK's progress.
Nicholas was an Engineer by profession, currently a qualified Registered migration agent and LREA. With years of experience in technology and project management, work with students and sales training. Nicholas has good skilled in problem solving, creative thinking and providing valued added / cost reduction for product design and processes. He is also proficient in few languages including Mandarin, Malay and Japanese.
Born in Malaysia, worked in Singapore and Japan provides Nicholas many experience dealing with multicultural, multi-religions communities. Currently live in Sydney, Nicholas will take on opportunity to understand and experience more country cultures of Australia.
Inspired by the BackTrack Philosophy and values, and touched by Bernie and Dave's passion for helping the lost youth. Nicholas is willing to bring in his experience and skills to help RuffTrack programs that transform youth lives.
Support adult Mishie grew up on the central coast doing swimming with the entrance swimming club and nippers as well as surf life saving at Toowoon bay.
Mishie has been involved in helping out disadvantaged youth for approximately 5 years and is eager to use her knowledge and help out at RuffTRACK.
Mishie has a passion for dogs after learning lots about them through her dog Moonshadow. Mishie has her cert 3 in community service and cert 2 in Animal Studies, as well as currently studying Vet Nursing and Dog Psychology at TAFE.
Mishie has lots of animal experience has she 2 dogs of her own, 1 puppy that she is raising for Guidedogs, 4 cats and a sulfur crested Cockatoo.
With all her youth work and animal experience, Mishie is a perfect fit for our RuffTRACK family and we are eager to utilise the knowledge she provides.