Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (10:56): I too feel very privileged to rise here today in this historic setting of the Legislative Council’s sitting in Bright. I think it is really apt that we are here in this town named after John Bright, the radical and renowned British politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1843 to 1889. He was passionate about suffrage, and after many decades of campaigning, the 1867 Reform Act was passed, giving the vote to working-class men, which was the beginning of full suffrage campaigns in the UK and here in Australia. It was in that debate that he also coined the term ‘flogging a dead horse’.
Recently the Reason Party held a screening of the Australian documentary Backtrack Boys. For those who have not seen it, this extraordinary documentary follows a group of troubled young people in rural Australia. Many of these young men cannot see a path forward in life and face dropping out of school and getting caught up with drugs and crime, which will eventually lead them to incarceration. Enter jackaroo Bernie Shakeshaft, who certainly stopped flogging the dead horse and founded the BackTrack Youth Works program, which uses animal-assisted learning and agricultural skills to turn around the lives of some of Australia’s most vulnerable kids. I would like to see innovative programs like BackTrack rolled out widely in Victoria. We need to do everything we can to help prevent the young people of rural and regional Victoria from a life where incarceration, especially among our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, just becomes a natural part of one’s journey through life.