Johnathan Thurston Launches National Academy

JT Academy Cairns

He is Australia’s most celebrated and award winning Rugby League player and Johnathan Thurston (JT) is just as well-known for his passion for helping young people and his desire to see them succeed.

In February this year JT announced the launch of his new passion, establishing the JT Academy to support young people through learning, healthy living and employment.

The JT Academy will develop and deliver high quality programs to individuals, backed by major community and industry partnerships to support each student to strive for their personal, learning and career goals.

Johnathan says the Academy idea grew from his involvement in encouraging young people and sharing his life experience with indigenous, disadvantaged and minority students who need mentoring, support and the fostering their talents.

“I have been really fortunate to have had good mentors, coaches and guidance throughout my career and I know how much it matters to young people to have self-confidence and self-belief. I wanted to create a results focused Academy with programs that equip students with the skills and understanding to grasp opportunities that come along – whether they are looking for a job, training or someone who believes in them,” Johnathan said.

“The JT Academy team is highly experienced and I will be closely involved in mentoring and working with kids throughout the country – that’s what matters to me, I’m really excited about it and that it has never been done before, in this manner.”

The Academy has big goals for 2018 and beyond – its vision is to share the inspiring and uplifting approach that JT has for success, leadership and teamwork. The Academy will be able to reach out to students throughout Australia and support them the way that each person needs most.

The Academy’s partnerships with major business leaders are providing Australian-first programs, including a unique fully functional job board and employment zone with our major partner Lendlease.

Online learning across all industries by GO1 uses one of the most powerful learning platforms, and a dedicated youth zone for engaging and encouraging young people to aim high, plus a range of programs, are supported by core partners including Sony Music, Accor Hotels, Asics Australia, Ooh Media and Jimani Clothing.

Lendlease Building’s CEO, Dale Connor said the company is thrilled to be the major employment partner of the Academy to create employment opportunities for Queensland jobseekers.

“Through this partnership we have the opportunity to utilise our projects, assets and regional presence to create meaningful and long-term job opportunities for young people across Queensland,” he said.

Johnathan Thurston Honoured for his Work, on and off the Field

Johnathan Thurston

Johnathan Thurston has been named Queensland’s number one most influential person by The Courier-Mail’s Power 100 for his work on and off the football field.

The rugby league legend and founder of the Johnathan Thurston Academy (JT Academy) has scored the number one spot of the who’s who of Queensland, the top 100 movers and shakers of the Sunshine State.

According to the newspaper driven initiative, Johnathan has secured the #1 Most Influential spot ahead personalities across politics, business, science, sporting and community advocates for the top honour, thanks to his impressive football career and his ongoing commitment and drive to helping Australian jobseekers find meaningful work. Johnathan’s determination to encourage further education in indigenous communities is also a focus of his Academy, going forward.

“Thurston personifies Queensland,” the newspaper said on Saturday when launching the Power 100 list. “He was the kid who got told he was too skinny to play rugby league, only to become the state’s most recognisable sports star.

“Yet, his influence extends beyond what he has done on the football field to become a driving force in politics and indigenous affairs.

“Thurston champions indigenous health and education and has launched the JT Academy, which aims to deliver employment, training and community programs to people across the nation.”

Despite only launching in February this year, the JT Academy is gaining traction and establishing its place as a national provider of real employment opportunities and training programs aimed at health, diversity, wellbeing, sport and education.

This is all thanks to the support of our major Corporate Partners, being Lendlease who have been unequivocal in their support from day one, Sony Music, Jimani Clothing, Asics Australia and Accor Hotels as well as the Federal Government support from the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion.

Minister Scullion commended Thurston for the number one honour, but said he wasn’t surprised to see him selected for the prestigious role

“It’s great the contribution of a great Queenslander, but also a great Aboriginal man and Australian recognised on Saturday,” Minister Scullion said.

“The Commonwealth Government is proud to support Johnathan Thurston’s work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland to lift school attendance, employment and family wellbeing.”

Thurston was humbled by the number one spot, but said the real honour is when he hears the stories of young jobseekers finding meaningful work through the Academy.

“We just want to inspire young people to know about the choices they have – if they are presented to them as actual choices and not just dreams – and then support them through their education and into work,” Thurston said. “That has a positive effect for that person, their family, friends and their community so if we do this properly, it’s going to be a win-win for all.

“I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of our wonderful partners and supporters from the companies who have helped us make the Academy possible to the many employers who have pledged to give our jobseekers a go.

“I would also like to thank and commend the jobseekers who have approached us to help find them work or undertaken our training – it’s thanks to this collaborative approach that will see us make a difference.”

The support and commitment of the JT Academy team to the cause has been nothing but overwhelming and greatly appreciated.



Meet Sam – Our First JTStar!


Introducing a JTStar

We love to share stories about the rising stars amongst our students who are completing programs with JTAcademy.  Our first JTStar is Sam – he is a student at St Mary’s College in Toowoomba, the same school that Johnathan attended before he began his footy career.

Sam is one of the first JT Academy recruits and says he is stoked to be involved. Sam is currently studying for his cert 3 in cabinet making and is enjoying completing his apprenticeship with the great team at RWN Joinery in Toowoomba, alongside another classmate from school.

Studying year 11 as well as a trade is tough at times but Sam is keen to complete his training and is keeping his options open by also studying certificates in hospitality and physical education. He thinks he may like to be a chef one day, or possibly a personal trainer and be even more involved in sport.

In his spare time Sam loves to play footy for Highfields and his brothers have followed him there to the club.

Sam was very excited to be one of the students selected from amongst 800 students of his school to attend the launch event of the JT Academy in Brisbane, in recognition of his leadership. The students all had to be on the bus for the city early that morning and were very keen to meet Johnathan in person – it was the first time Sam had met JT, although his brother had previously. Sam was impressed that JT was really funny and talked a lot to the kids about aiming high and enjoying team work.

At the launch, Sam was chosen by his teachers to represent the school and be interviewed by media and, although he said it was daunting to face all the cameras, Sam gave it his best shot and was very proud that his family and friends saw him on the news.

Meeting JT was extra meaningful for Sam, as he lost his brother to suicide a few years ago. When Johnathan heard the news he took the time to personally write to Sam’s family and it meant a lot to them all.

Sam’s big day was topped off with an especially memorable experience that night, as he and his school mates went to the Thurston-Smith Testimonial Game with more than 25,000 fellow fans, thanks to JT Academy, and they sat in the second row to watch the Cowboys win!

Well done Sam and good luck with all your studies! We think you are a star.


Over 30 Traineeships/Apprenticeships pledged this week!

Johnathan Thurston

What a week!  Over 30 apprenticeships/traineeships (including school based) have been pledged this week by some amazing employers.  There are some genuine employers in our Community, who work hard in creating outstanding workplace culture and environments and in doing so,  create amazing opportunities for our Youth.

We are honoured to be working with these outstanding companies by providing them a pipeline of work ready jobseekers.  This week, we made over 40 job placement introductions in addition to securing over 30 new GENUINE job opportunities (with amazing companies).

We are not an RTO, nor are we are running any Government funded employment or training programs.  We are backed and supported by amazing companies who are joining us in taking employment back to basics.  Simply making introductions between Jobseeker and employer! #backtobasics #makingemploymenteasy

Thank you, Lendlease for the Sunshine Coast introductions… the Employers on the Sunshine Coast – take a bow!!  Thank you!  Lendlease, Accor Hotels, Sony Music, Asics, Jimani Clothing continue to support us more than we could have imaged!

Mooney’s Corp, CQ Field Mining Services, KLN Group,  Bank of QLD,you guys are truly amazing.  To the companies who don’t want their names mentioned. we think you’re incredible!

Regards, Samantha Johnson, General Manager, JT Academy…

Note: If you are a job seeker looking for work, or a school and looking for a school based apprenticeship – register here..

Employers wanting Trainees/Apprentices or assistance with Indigenous employment initiatives – please inbox or email me.