Community Service Projects

The Regional Employment Agriculture Project (REAP) is a fit-for-purpose employment and enterprise development initiative in the Armidale area addressing and alleviating long-term unemployment of refugees and migrants settling in the area.  REAP is a collaboration between Northern Settlement Services (NSS), Settlement Services International (SSI) and The Rotary Club of Armidale (Rotary).

REAP matches local needs for economic development and population retention with the training and employment needs of refugees and migrants in Armidale. Utilising a piece of land (made available through Rotary connections) farmed by new and recently arrived refugees and migrants skilled and interested in agriculture, REAP provides a structured Program that can cater for up to 120 clients.

The Project will also provide skilling in employability such as resume and application letter development, interview techniques and tips and insight into Australian Rural Culture.

REAP is an exciting project set to benefit not only refugees and migrants in the Armidale area but the greater Armidale community as well. It has the capacity for use as a model for other rural communities and will provide valuable insight and information into how to assist newly arrived refugees and migrants settle into Rural Australia.

The project - Regional Employment Agricultural Project (REAP) - Ezidi refugee community (RABS)  is registered on the RAWCS national website. 


Tax deductibility is granted through the "Rotary Australia Benevolent Society" (ABN 54 563 288 318) and can be accessed via the secure donations page on the website -

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Ezidi Refugee Resettlement Program


First of our EZIDI orientation days at Charlie Belfield's property- 10 September 2020.

The aim of the program is to assist Northern Settlemnt Services to resettle the Ezidi refugees coming to Armidale to settle into the community.  Two of the Club members have donated lease over blocks of agricultural land for the Ezidis to farm.

Armidale’s BackTrack youth organisation was named the Youth Service of the Year at the NSW Youth Work Awards in Sydney last night.

Founder Bernie Shakeshaft received the prestigious award from NSW Minister for Disability, Ageing and Multiculturalism John Agaka at a ceremony at the SMC Conference Centre.
The Awards are organised by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services Youth Action group, the State’s peak body for young people and youth services which represents 1.25 million young people and the services that support them.
Backtrack was one of nine finalists including youth organisations from Sydney and across NSW.


Mr Shakeshaft said “BackTrack’s vision for the last seven years has been to help young people having a hard time turn their lives around, reconnect with their education and training and their community and to find work.

“These young people have the same aspirations as everyone else. They want to do well in life and we concentrate on helping them achieve that as best we can.”

Mr Shakeshaft said the Award should be shared with the local community and its leaders who have given such strong support to BackTrack over the last seven years.

“We could not have achieved what we have without the support of our local politicians, council, Jobs Australia Enterprises (JAE) , the Armidale Rotary club, along with other service clubs, the University, local businesses and members of the community,” he said.


"Ironman Welders" at work

Rotary Club Armidale

BackTrack Founder (centre) Bernie Shakeshaft, Armidale Rotary Club President (left) and 9650 District Governor Phil Hafey in discussion at the Bactrack site in Armidale.



AgLads was developed to address our region’s growing trade and agricultural skills shortages. AgLads has since developed as an innovative industry led program focussed on creating employment opportunities for youth in rural communities. It provides training, work experience and progression to paid work crews. Teams of AgLads are completing on the job training on local properties under the guidance of industry mentors and are attaining certificates in Rural Operations

the “Tiny Homes” project established. In the first instance, four stand- alone dwellings are being built. These are small one-room structures equipped with bathrooms, kitchenettes, cupboard space, lounge chair, TV and overhead bunk. The cost for each is around $36,000. Although small, these cabins are quite well equipped enough for the residents to have friends visit.

The Rotary Club of Armidale has selected the development of a recreation site as their major project for the remainder of 2021, and directed $10,000 and a significant amount of in-kind labour towards the project.

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President Hugh Beattie presenting a $10,000 cheque to Benie Shakeshaft to help fund the recreation area at the Tiny Homes site. President Elect Bernie Perkins and Service Ditrector Ed Wright attended.