Challenge Community Services are hoping to bring a university presence in to a proposed program that aims to solve youth unemployment issues by teaching independence and responsibility to troubled youths.
CEO Barry Murphy is currently putting a business plan together to put in front of Tamworth Regional Council next month, with the tick of approval the final piece in the puzzle before the program can get underway.
The program will be based around the principles of Armidale’s highly acclaimed Backtrack, which uses a traveling jumping dog show to take in troubled youths and teach them to be independent of the welfare system and employable, boasting an 87 per cent success rate.
The Tamworth program will be fully funded by the Container Deposit Scheme and the Challenge Recycling Centre, which recently added the tender for a full time buyback centre to their stable, which the program will be based around.
So far the proposal has had plenty of community backing, and is on track to be fully funded by proceeds made at Challenge’s Recycling Centre, now only needing council support to get the ball rolling.
“It was a very positive meeting, and council gave us a good hearing,” Mr Murphy said.
“They asked us a lot of questions, which they are entitled to do. I think it should all get covered and we will be ready to start.”
Challenge have now been asked to compile a business plan for the August meeting, while TRC are putting together a memorandum of understanding.
Challenge have requested three services from TRC including the transporting of goods from the waste centre to the buyback centre, which will be in Taminda, as well an option to return any refurbished goods that aren’t sold within three months back to the waste facility for free.
Mayor Col Murray said that while council will not officially discuss the proposal until it is on the ordinary meeting agenda, Challenge’s reputation in the community will play in their favour.
“The Challenge service has proven the test of time with their unique and valuable service to the city,” he said.
“We will definitely take into consideration the strong support Challenge offer to handicap and other members of the community.”
One aspect that councillors were interested in was how Challenge would be measuring the success of the Buyback centre and youth program.
“We are also very interested in measuring results, and it is something I would like to get the university involved in to measure,” Mr Murphy said.
“Although in order to measure results we have to have the program up and running first.”
While Backtrack founder Bernie Shakeshaft has been contacted and will be involved in some extent to the setting up of the program, the Tamworth operation will not be taking on the Backtrack name, with an official name to be released in the coming weeks.
Last week Armidale’s Backtrack was awarded access to up to $100,000 through the state government’s Youth Employment Innovation Challenge, designed to find innovative ways to create new jobs in some of the state’s worst unemployment hot spots.