JTAcademy throws support behind women in mining

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We have all heard that old and outdated expression that diamonds are a girl’s best friend; Australia’s Gold Industry Group (GIG) would like to change that to gold is the land of opportunity for women where they are finding work, long-term careers and chances to thrive professionally.

For the first time this year, the GIG’s annual Women in Gold Great Diversity Debate was taken to Sydney and Melbourne, expanding its footprint from Perth and allowing more industry participants to have their say.  The tour proved to be inspiring and engaging as gold industry professionals explored the thought-provoking topic: “a diversity debate that begins and ends with gender is doomed to fail”.

The Sydney event held on November 14 was proudly sponsored by key Johnathan Thurston Academy Employment Partner, Evolution Mining.  Lawrie Conway, Evolution Mining Finance Director and Chief Financial Officer was Master of Ceremonies and GIG Vice Chair and Gold Fields VP Legal and Compliance Kelly Carter adjudicated the debate which featured a diverse line up of speakers representing the gold industry.

“It was incredible to be a part of an event which was designed with the sole purpose of shining the focus on women in the gold sector and the value of the contribution they can make,” JTAcademy General Manager Samantha Johnson, who attended the debate, explained.

“At the JT Academy, we happily embrace opportunities which help us to breakdown stereotypes and other barriers to entry for women in the gold mining sector.

“Attending the debate as a representative of the JT Academy allowed us to make some important connections and let industry know we are here and happy to help them achieve diversity targets, regardless of what form they take.”

Charmaine Saltner, Evolution Mining Group Community Relations Advisor, explained the company happily embraced the chance to sponsor the event.

“This is the first year we have had the opportunity to support this event in Sydney and our Chief Operating Officer, Bob Fulker was asked to be involved in the debate,” she said.

“He immediately recognised this as an important opportunity to explain ways in which women can contribute and, as it turns out, they are pretty much the same ways men can.

“There is no reasonable or acceptable reason for women to be under-represented in Australia’s mining sector. Anything we can do as a sector and society to help women get jobs and opportunities in this sector is something we are happy to be involved with and encourage others to do the same.”

To see more about our partnership with Evolution Mining and the opportunities they are offering, visit the website.

JTBelieve Every Day Counts – Term 3 Winners

Education Term 3 Winners

We are excited to announce the second cohort of winning classes as part of the JTBelieve Every day counts pilot delivered in partnership with the Department of Education.

Each participating school recognised one class for their Term 3 attendance performance. Every student from the winning classes will receive a JTBelieve Award letter, as well as a Certificate, personally signed by Johnathan Thurston.

A special mention to Class 8F from Spinifex State College who was the overall winner from the participating schools. Each student from their winning class will also receive a JT Academy pack consisting of a bag, cap, water bottle, postcard and notepad.

“I would like to again congratulate all the students, parents, carers and teachers from the winning classes for their ongoing commitment to their education,” Johnathan said.

“A special shout out to Spinifex State College who lead the way for the participating schools”

“I would like to thank the Department of Education and all the participating schools for supporting the initiative this year”

The winning classes were:

School Class
Spinifex State College Class 8F
Bloomfield River State School Class 4/5/6
Burketown State School Class P2
Charleville State School Class Prep S
Sunset State School Class 2K
Hopevale Campus of CYAAA Class DI3
Thuringowa State High School Class 9B
St. George State School Class 3/4B
Townview State School Class 6A


Note – The JTBelieve Every day counts pilot is about supporting and encouraging students to believe in themselves and turn up – every day. The Every day counts campaign comprises animations and comic books. Have a look for JT himself, featured in The new adventures of Jimmy and Sam the Dog animation and comic book.

Key tips on how to get your foot in the door with Australia’s leading employers


Getting in to work with some of Australia’s largest employers can be a tough gig, but Jason Holt, Director with Field Mining Services Group (FMS), a corporate partner with the JTAcademy, has provided some top tips for jobseekers.

Jason says Australia’s mining sector is going to need another 20,000 workers in the next five years so this means now is the ideal time for experienced and new workers to forge a strong and sustainable career in a growing sector.

Jason offered these five tips for apprentices wanting to join a major company in Australia’s mining sector such as FMS Group. These are:

1. Get your tickets: An apprenticeship is great, but extra tickets will open opportunities for you. Try simple, low-cost certifications like forklift, confined or working at heights tickets.

2. You can’t get a job you haven’t applied for: Even if you’re not 100% sure you have every qualification listed in a job ad, you should still apply. It’s good practice, ensures your CV is always current, may help you gain interview experience and you won’t know if you don’t give it a go.

3. Work out which companies you want to work for and follow them: All the major players in the industry have a strong social media presence and will post job ads regularly, so keep track of the companies you’re keen to work for.

4. Be proactive in the trade or skillsets you want to work towards: A great approach is to complete work experience in your area of focus or do some external training to gain knowledge prior to receiving an apprenticeship. This will also reassure you that you’ve chosen the right field to pursue.

5. Don’t give up: Follow up on prospects, interviews or opportunities and keep positive. The best candidate is one that shows they are keen and has an attitude that will go far in this business.

“The kinds of partnerships we have developed with FMS Group and the opportunities they are providing young Australians for access to education and employment opportunities are essential if we are to provide young Australians with chances to learn and earn,” JTAcademy General Manager Samantha Johnson said.

Field Mining Services (FMS) Group, one of the country’s leading suppliers of qualified trades and specialist maintenance to mining clients throughout Australasia, has a focus on developing and retaining the most talented workers in the industry.

FMS Group employs more than 250 employees across sites in Queensland, Western Australia and Papua New Guinea servicing clients in the mining, construction, oil and gas industries.


Evolution creates golden opportunity

MCO Melb Cup

THERE’s a golden connection between the NRL and the Melbourne Cup – an innovative Australian gold mining company that has this year delivered the glittering goods for both the racing trophy and the premiership winners.

Evolution Mining produced the gold for the Melbourne Cup – the 100th anniversary of its design – for the fourth consecutive year, as well as for the commemorative rings awarded to the successful grand final team.

The gold came from its Mt Carlton operation 150km south of Townsville.

Recognising its significance to local communities, Evolution worked with the Whitsunday and Burdekin Shires to secure a place on the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour, proudly giving people from local communities, including Gumlu, Home Hill, Ayr and Bowen and the Mt Carlton operation, a preview of the trophy long before the punters saw it on Cup day.

“This is truly an achievement each and every one of us can be proud of, so thank you Mt Carlton team for your hard work and dedication that helped produce the gold for this year’s Cup,” Evolution Mining’s Mt Carlton Operation general manager Anton Kruger said.

“It’s a privilege for Evolution staff to be involved in producing two of the most prestigious sports trophies in Australia.”

Gold for the NRL Premiership ring came from Evolution’s Cracow operation in central Queensland.  The JT Academy’s Managing Director Johnathan Thurston, the first player to add his touch to the ring that is gifted to every member of the NRL Premiership team, was inspired by an original painting by Wayne Martin of Nguram-Bang Aboriginal Art.

“This year, we chose to integrate a piece of home into the ring design as a sign of respect and acknowledgment to my home the Gungarri,” he said.

Each ring, worth $10,000, has 150 diamonds totalling two carats set in Evolution gold.

Cracow, which is based on the land of the Wulli Wulli people, will gift the value of the gold sourced from the land to the local indigenous group.

The Johnathan Thurston Academy has signed a two-year partnership with Evolution Mining to help improve access to employment opportunities for local and Indigenous jobseekers aged 16-25 in regional Australia.

The partnership sees the Academy currently working at four Evolution sites – Mt Carlton and Cracow in Queensland, Cowal in NSW and Mungari in Western Australia, with plans to extend to other sites.

The partnership, while promoting job vacancies opportunities, will also assist local and Indigenous participants by preparing them to be job ready.

Thurston said the partnership with Evolution Mining had enormous potential to create employment opportunities, which could help to significantly increase options available for youth in regional Australia.

“And that’s exciting,” he said. “This partnership with Evolution Mining will go a long way to equipping Indigenous youth with the skills and confidence needed to apply for work.

“This partnership also provides opportunities to work with such a forward-thinking company who are part of two of Australia’s iconic sporting events, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

To take advantage of the opportunities being provided and to register their interest in being part of the program, at jtacademy.com.au/evolution

A job with Evolution? Now that’s NRL and Melbourne Cup gold.

Coomera State School Students inspired by JTAcademy visit

KLN Coomera workshop Blog

The JT Academy was recently invited to hold four JTBelieve workshops for Year 5 and 6 students at Coomera State School, supported by key partner KLN Group.

KLN Group, which specialises in providing electrical and technological solutions to the construction and services sector, has been a partner since the Academy’s launch in 2018 and is a huge supporter of its work.

Managing Director Brett Nicholson said the company was committed to building courage, confidence and self-belief in primary school children.

“It was great for our company to sponsor the JT Academy’s visit to Coomera State School and talk to the students about building self-belief and self-confidence,” Mr Nicholson said.

“I am very proud to know that we share the values and objectives of the JTAcademy to foster young people, like the students at Coomera State School, in the ways they need support.

JTBelieve is designed to engage students and their families in education. Participants are mentored and the workshops are facilitated by ambassadors who have been identified and invited by Johnathan Thurston.

The JT Academy Ambassadors act as role models and mentors to support and encourage the participants and their families to build their aspirations and achieve their goals.

The program delivers in-school mentoring and support from the JT Academy; regular presentations on self-belief, confidence and courage.

It is these partnerships with those providing the work and on-the-job training, which have proven such a success in what the JTAcademy is striving to achieve.

A spokesperson from Coomera State School said the workshops had engaged and inspired the young students.

“The information and messages provided were quite appropriate for the age group,” the spokesperson said.

“It was a worthwhile activity and we thank the JT Academy and KLN Group for providing this opportunity for our students.”


JT visits Darwin for Aboriginal Economic Development Forum

Darwin Blog Image

JTAcademy team with Managing Director Johnathan Thurston and the Hon Selena Uibo.

It was a lively discussion last week when our Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston AM, hosted a session at the 9th Aboriginal Economic Development Forum in Darwin.

Thurston spoke about the work the JT Academy is doing in helping Indigenous youth access education and employment opportunities.

“Through the Academy, we have been able to provide literally thousands of young Australians with education and employment they would not otherwise have enjoyed,” Thurston said to the forum.

“We have had a focus on regional areas and now excited to be expanding into the NT where we are already starting to build key partnerships to provide these opportunities to locals.”

Thurston’s attendance at the Forum was sponsored by the JTAcademy’s major employment partner Lendlease.

Other speakers at the event include Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt, Aboriginal leader academic Professor Mick Dodson, Chair of Aboriginal Broadcasting Australia Dr Donna Odegaard and Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Education and Workplace Selena Uibo.

The forum, organised by the Northern Territory Government, was designed to encourage those working in Aboriginal businesses, services and programs to network with each other, share knowledge and showcase themselves.

The forum also aims to support discussion on Aboriginal economic development initiatives and strategies and attracts a diverse range of participants from Aboriginal entrepreneurs, private sector, industry, government and non-government organisations from across the Northern Territory.

“This forum was developed in response to the recognition that creating, retaining and growing Aboriginal jobs and businesses in the Northern Territory is important to the economy and wellbeing of local communities,” Thurston said.

“We have seen the value of partnerships in helping to reach those who have fallen through the cracks. We recognise that a large part of being employment-ready means having the confidence and self-belief that you can do it and that is often where we start.

“Through these partnerships and opportunities, we have seen lives change and want to keep doing that in the Northern Territory.”

Thurston has long been a passionate advocate and Ambassador for the Aboriginal community and in 2019 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to rugby league and as a role model.


Listen to the interview with Johnathan and Mix 104.9 here.



Johnson Controls working with JTAcademy to connect with jobseekers and foster diversity and inclusion opportunities

Johnson Controls Logo

In another exciting development for the Johnathan Thurston Academy, we have joined with Johnson Controls to improve access to employment opportunities for Indigenous jobseekers and foster diversity and inclusion opportunities within their organisation.

The exciting agreement also sees Johnson Controls sponsoring the delivery of a number of workshops to students at Queensland schools.

Johnson Controls transforms the environments where people live, work and play. From optimizing building performance to improving safety and enhancing comfort, they deliver to industries such as healthcare, education, data centers and manufacturing.

“We are delivering some awesome programs through the JTAcademy and I am so proud of what we have been able to achieve in less than two years,” JT Academy Managing Director Johnathan Thurston said.

“While the dream to help is one thing, it can only be realised through great relationships such as the one we have just entered into with Johnson Controls.

“Anything we can do to contribute to these opportunities allows us to help Indigenous people make a difference to their own lives and that of their community. And that really is quite remarkable to be a part of.”

A spokesperson for Johnson Controls said the company saw its work with the JTAcademy as an important opportunity to assist Indigenous jobseekers into meaningful employment.

“At Johnson Controls, we understand the value and importance of promoting diversity and inclusion throughout our organisation,” said Mark Shaw, Vice President, Pacific, Johnson Controls. “This allows us to take on the best employees from all backgrounds who often prove to be valuable and long-term employees for our organisation.

“By working with the JTAcademy, which has established itself to collectively build inclusion by linking community and industry, we believe we can help build sustainable employment opportunities and are excited by the opportunity.”

Johnathan Thurston to visit Quilpie to deliver motivational workshops to locals

JT Speaker

Australian rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston will bring his Johnathan Thurston Academy to Quilpie at the end of October to present a series of workshops to the local community to help inspire and prepare them for the future. He will also attend the official opening of the refurbished Quilpie Football Grounds.

Areas covered by Quilpie Shire Council have been particularly hard hit by the drought crisis. Thurston’s visit to the region is being funded by the Western Queensland PHN under the Empowering Our Communities Initiative and Quilpie Shire Council.

It is hoped the workshops will help lift the spirits of locals bringing them together to celebrate as a community.

Thurston will arrive in Quilpie on October 28 where he will host junior rugby league workshops at the footy grounds. The following day Thurston and his team from the Johnathan Thurston Academy will deliver the JTSucceed workshop to local students, which has been designed to encourage youth to stay in school – and attend – until they have finished their education.

The team will then deliver the JTFutureLeaders Workshop to a selected group of 18 to 35-year-olds from the region who hold, or are moving into, leadership positions. It has been developed to help build their confidence and understanding of the importance of their roles in being good role models placing the community firmly at the centre of their decision-making.

Rural landholders and staff from Quilpie Shire Council will also benefit from a motivational session from Thurston to boost morale.

The three day visit has been made possible thanks to Quilipie Shire Council and the Western Queensland PHN a not-for-profit organisation formed by South West Hospital and Health Service, Central West Hospital and Health Service and North West Hospital and Health Services. The group’s charter is to provide a strong foundational platform to improve primary health care services throughout the Western Queensland region which has been badly affected by drought.

Quilpie Shire Council Mayor, Stuart Mackenzie said the visit is sure to boost the spirits of the small outback communities of the shire. 

“Rural property owners and local business operators have been particularly hard hit by the impacts of the prolonged drought conditions,” Cr Mackenzie said.

“The impacts resonate throughout the entire community including our youth whose families are often struggling financially.”

Thurston, who is the Managing Director of the JT Academy, has spent much of his time since retiring from rugby league promoting programs which encourage and support Australian youth into meaningful employment and education.

“The JT Academy was developed to inspire, support and to set our nation’s youth up to succeed across all areas of their life: employment, education and wellbeing. It’s our absolute pleasure when we get the opportunity to extend our reach to youth living in remote and regional communities,” Thurston explained.

“With the support of our corporate partners and invitations such as this from local councils, we are able to get into some of these communities and deliver programs which make a tangible difference to the lives of local kids and, as a result, the whole community benefits.

“The more we can encourage and support our young people to find a strong sense of self-belief, confidence, courage and purpose, the better prepared they will be to lead future generations. It is a small investment but a worthy one.”

New partnership provides opportunities for Indigenous jobseekers

Evolution Mining

Young indigenous jobseekers will be given access to opportunities as part of a new two year partnership between the Johnathan Thurston Academy and Australian gold mining company Evolution Mining. Applications of interest are now being accepted.

Under the partnership, indigenous youth aged between 16 and 25will be able to access the education and employment opportunities available at four of Evolution’s regional operations – Mt Carlton and Cracow in Queensland, Cowal in NSW and Mungari in Western Australia – through the Academy’s website.

“We are committed to maximising local and Indigenous employment opportunities wherever possible,” Anika McManus, Evolution Mining Group Manager External and Indigenous Relations explained.

“And we are excited about our partnership with the JTAcademy as their programs will help remove some of the barriers we identified that were preventing some locals from applying for roles.

“Supporting people in the communities in which we operate to competitively apply for jobs, not just with us, but with any company, will benefit both the community and Evolution. 

“Targeted training and support around writing job applications, compiling a resume and, importantly, having the confidence to attend and succeed in a job interview, will help more people access available jobs and to have fulfilling careers.”

Thurston said the partnership had the potential to meaningfully change the lives of some who will receive work and training through it and he called on young people to register their interest.

“This partnership has been designed to allow young people in regional communities to get a leg up not just through training and employment, but even through the confidence-building which comes with that,” Thurston said.

“The Academy has been developed to help youth across Australia have more opportunities, and partnerships like this allow us to provide additional support for indigenous youth, especially those in remote and regional communities.

“But if they are to take advantage of the opportunities which are being provided, youth need to get a little pro-active and register their interest to be part of the program. It’s easy. They just need to go to the website: https://www.jtacademy.com.au/evolution/.”

Thanks Lendlease for joining us on this journey

lendlease 1

More than four years ago we commenced the planning and development of the Johnathan Thurston Academy with a clear vision of supporting young people to succeed in employment, education, health and wellbeing.

When having conversations with various corporates, it was always our goal to partner with companies and organisations who share the same values and are like-minded in caring for their people and their community.

At our very first meeting with Lendlease, we knew immediately that we were two like-minded organisations and shared values of respect, integrity, collaboration and trust. What we didn’t realise at that meeting was that Lendlease would soon become our Major Employment Partner – and more so treat us and look after us like family.

Lendlease is a property and construction company with global expertise in shaping cities and creating strong and connected communities. Chief Executive Officer for Lendlease Building, Dale Connor, recognised an opportunity to partner with the JTAcademy to help influence the training and employment outcomes for young jobseekers across Australia.

“When we met with Johnathan, Academy Director Sam Ayoub and General Manager Samantha Johnson, we immediately recognised a clear alignment of objectives,” Connor said of the partnership.

“Both the Academy and Lendlease are committed to supporting the local communities in which we operate whether it is through employment, training or engagement with small to medium enterprise.

“We shook hands on it at the time agreeing Lendlease would be there for the Academy and we have been true to our word. We are proud of the work we have done together and the opportunities it has created.”

JT said the Academy was very much a start-up when the first meeting with Lendlease took place.

“The support and trust from Lendlease meant the world to myself and my team. It is a partnership that will forever remain as our very first.  Lendlease backing us was a pivotal point in our journey.  Forever grateful.

“We knew exactly what we wanted to achieve, but we also recognised that to achieve it, we needed strategic corporate partners who could help us walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk,” Thurston said.

“Samantha literally drew a mud map of the partnership using stick figures at our first brainstorming meeting with Lendlease. We have kept those drawings because they remind us of our humble beginnings and what we set out to achieve – to make a meaningful and very real difference in the lives of young Australians. 

“We have achieved a lot in just a couple of years and we could not have done that without the support of Lendlease.”

JT said the partnership with Lendlease had opened several doors to additional employment partners which would not have been accessible otherwise and they have also facilitated introductions to organisations which have become sponsors, supporters and partners.

When Lendlease added a link to its website to the JTAcademy’s job board, visitor numbers to the site went through the roof opening doors for new generations of youth to access opportunities to learn and work.

“The solid foundation we have been able to build is thanks to the generosity and support of Lendlease, and means we are now looking to launch an ambitious new youth and diversity employment program at the end of 2019 – JT2020, which I know will be a game-changer for employment,” Thurston said.

“We are excited about what we have already achieved and even more excited about our plans for the future to help more youth in more communities.”


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