IT’S a stepping stone for students who aren’t engaged in the education system, but the Tamworth BackTrack program could be under threat if funding doesn’t come through before the end of the year.
This week the program, based at the Somerton property Trelawney, received a commitment from four regional high schools, TAFE New England and the Department of Education and Communities through a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Tamworth High, Peel High, Oxley High and Gunnedah High have entered the partnership, facilitated by Careers Network, to increase participation and education.
“The MOU is about making sure we’re all on the same page and it will mean commitment from the Education Department and TAFE that kids are going to be offered this opportunity,” BackTrack founder Bernie Shakeshaft said.
Nothing has come of Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello’s visit in early September, with the farm unable to operate for much longer.
“At the moment we can run until January, then we’re in the lap of the gods,” Mr Shakeshaft said.
“There’s enough interest, but interest won’t keep us afloat.”
Trelawney has had the first group of 40 students on site since July, but the waiting list continues to grow.
“We’ve got about 20 people sitting in the wings but we’re just starting to get some traction with the kids we’ve got now,” Mr Shakeshaft said.
“The first step is always showing up. If they haven’t been showing up to school and they come to us, well, that’s a start.”