Johnathan Thurston takes the reef to kids in locked down communities

At least 100 school students from remote Indigenous communities will join Johnathan Thurston on a virtual dive of the Great Barrier Reef as part of an exciting new partnership between his academy and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The students, from the remote Kowanyama and Yarrabah communities, are members of the JT Academy. The dive will be held on May 26, 2020 to celebrate the launch of the JTReefDreaming program, which will virtually connect young Australians with one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.

With the help of reef education scuba divers at the Authority’s Reef HQ Aquarium, the students will enjoy a virtual dive on the reef with JT. The students will also be provided with educational workbooks which look at the Reef and how they can help protect it, and test their knowledge through a series of question and answer sheets.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley welcomed the initiative.

“It’s a great idea that provides a fun, novel approach to learning about the rich ecosystems of this natural wonder,” Minister Ley said.

“Johnathan Thurston is an inspirational leader who can help kids connect with the Reef, inspire them to learn more about it, and provide a break from the challenges of COVID-19 Isolation.

“These are the next generation of Reef custodians and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s national education center is working with JT to inspire them from a young age.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch said: “This is a fantastic initiative and one that will continue to highlight the beauty and vibrancy of our Great Barrier Reef.

“JT is s role model for many indigenous kids and it is great to see him on-board with this initiative.”

JT, the Managing Director of the JT Academy, said he was proud that the academy was able to make the program happen during COVID-19 and that he could virtually connect with the students, who had been in isolation for almost ten weeks.

“The JTReefDreaming program is important because it is connecting our kids with one of the greatest natural wonders of the world so that we will be able to help protect it in the future,” JT said.

“In response to COVID-19, our team has worked really hard to ensure the kids, who the academy worked with, were not left behind and our educational programs didn’t just stop. This is a great program which I’m very proud the academy could deliver.”

Minister Ley said that it was timely that JTReefDreaming was being launched just as National Reconciliation Week was about to begin on 27 May with the theme “In This Together”.

“The Authority has already scaled up its education outreach programs to support families that are home-schooling while social distancing measures are in place,” she said. “JTReefDreaming is extending that support directly into Aboriginal communities.”

JT said the students and families across Australia will have free access to the JTReefDreaming workbooks for two weeks on the JT Academy website.

To download a copy visit

The Johnathan Thurston Academy launches new booklets to help young Aussies shine and build vital soft skills for self-development.

The JT Academy is continuing its drive to help young Australians shine, launching a series of interactive booklets to keep them educated and informed on important issues.

JTBelieve is a series of 7 booklets inspired by the programs and workshops that are delivered and run by the JT Academy. Johnathan and his team have developed programs, books, and resources that aim to empower our youth, to achieve personal growth and life success.

Available through the JTResources page of the academy’s website, the booklets in the JTBelieve series are available as ebooks or paperbacks.  Primary and Secondary school versions available for each booklet. Suited and developed for all learning styles.

They are illustrative of the faith JT had when working hard despite early rejections to reach the highest heights of the NRL. The JTBelieve series of booklets, inspire hard work, educate, and improve self-development.

The second and third series will cover employment and empowering young women, available in the coming weeks.

JT Academy Managing Director Johnathan Thurston said the booklets were an important part of the academy’s reason to exist.

“We created the JT Academy in 2018 to help make a difference in the lives of young people, and these booklets are a key part of that goal,” he said.

To access the booklets go to

Indigenous commissioned artist reveals the JT Academy story through his unique design

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Since the 2018 launch of the JT Academy, as a new business, the journey so far has been challenging and rewarding. The team is driven to make a difference and has already grown and achieved so much. As an Indigenous-owned and Supply Nation registered business, Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston AM, recently commissioned Theodore based Indigenous artist, Wayne Martin, to produce a unique design piece that would represent the facets of this journey and goals for the future.

Wayne and his wife Danielle are the owners of Ngurambang Cultural Education and Aboriginal Art. Wayne describes the story within his design as beginning with a meeting place to represent the creation and drive behind the JT Academy. From there, pathways lead off to areas depicting the key values of youth, education, employment and community – all interconnected, now and into the future. Overall, the design portrays the passion, kindness, hard work, pride and teamwork that makes the JT Academy unique and successful.

“Along my cultural journey, I have met a lot of strong cultural men, and this is what inspires my art,” said Wayne, a proud Wiradjuri/Maranganji (Mardigan) man.

“I am humbled to provide this artwork for Johnathan Thurston and enjoyed incorporating his totem, the Emu, and creating something that tells a complete story of the JT Academy.

“It is really important to share our culture; this is something that we, myself and my wife Danielle, are very passionate about, it is the reason we started our business.”

JT intends for elements of the design to appear within the Academy branding and marketing.

“The artwork will be positioned in the JT Academy office as a proud reminder of our history and our future and be something that inspires the team every day,” said Thurston.

Johnathan Thurston jumps into action to ensure Indigenous kids in remote communities stay connected during Coronavirus

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Johnathan Thurston’s Academy, NBN Co and Skytrans have pulled off the impossible to ensure Indigenous children in remote communities are not left socially isolated during school closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

With the Coronavirus continuing to spread, Thurston feared that the remote communities who take part in the academy’s JTBelieve programs, funded by the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, would become more isolated and it would have long term impact on the mental well-being of the wider communities.

Last week, Thurston called NBN Co to ask for their help and they jumped at the chance to assist. In under 48 hours, all parties had coordinated the installation of systems into Kowanyama and Yarrabah, with Thursday Island not far behind,  so Thurston and the academy could beam personal daily messages, school lessons and other information directly into the communities.

Thurston will be chatting with the kids over his own NBN connection from his Townsville home. Skytrans has generously transported the necessary equipment into the communities to establish the vital link.

JTAcademy has been running these programs, in conjunction with the local communities, for more than two years, with outstanding results including 91% school attendance in some cases.

But Thurston said he was very worried a lot of that good work would quickly come undone if local schools were closed due to the Coronavirus.

“I am so grateful to NBN Co and Skytrans for moving heaven and earth to help us make this happen,” Thurston said. “Without them this would have not happened and the fact they both jumped at the chance to ensure these kids were looked after says so much about their focus and commitment to the regional communities of Australia.

“As a result of our programs, which work hand-in-hand with the local elders and Council bodies, the kids in these communities are fully engaged, more confident, taking part in more extra-curricular activities, but I am worried that this will suffer during any school closures.

“The impact of that on the kids could be quite devastating. These communities already feel a sense of isolation and I am concerned how quickly this could escalate to wider community health and well-being concerns.

“I fear for our kids if they become cut off from society and I want to ensure they don’t feel abandoned. We have JTAcademy team members on the ground in each community, working hard to keep our participants calm and positively engaged and I have instructed my academy team to do whatever it takes to ensure we have a good connection with each community,” he said.

NBN Co’s Head of Regional and Remote Gavin Williams said they were very happy they could assist and work with the academy to facilitate the installation of the satellites to ensure the kids can stay connected during this period.

“We are proud to have been able to facilitate this,” Mr Williams said.

“Ensuring the kids can stay connected and that their engagement with the academy remains is incredibly important.  The work the academy is doing in these remote locations is incredible and it was important to us that we could play a small part in supporting them and ensuring it’s not interrupted during this time.”

The Academy has also worked with each community to set up temporary locations, such as the Council Chambers and library so the kids can meet (on a roster) in small groups to view and partake in the material transmitted by the academy through the newly installed satellites.

SkyTrans Chairman Peter Collings said the company jumped at the chance to provide support in transporting the supplies and the team who provided the installation.

“It was touch and go there for a while if we could get into the communities before the lockdown but the work the Academy did in facilitating all key players on short notice was amazing,” Mr Collins said.

“We are very proud to have played a part in this project and give back to our regional communities.”

Since 2018, Thurston has focused on making a difference in the lives of young Indigenous people by improving their access to employment and educational opportunities through the JTAcademy.


For more information please call Sarah Morgan on 0421 664 969.

New partnership will narrow the gap in employment opportunities

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The JT Academy is proud to announce it has teamed up with commercial cleaning company Vivid Property Services to offer employment opportunities through the JTEmployIndigenous program.

Founded in 2007 by Managing Director Scott Agnew, Vivid Property Services puts more than 2000 vetted, well-trained, quality-controlled commercial cleaners into airports, government facilities, educational institutions and the secure offices of some of Australia’s most prestigious companies every day.

Vivid CEO Peter Watson said the company had been impressed by the JT Academy’s focus on “narrowing the gap in employment opportunities” and what it offered back to the community.

“It is quite unique in terms of its approach to the programs it runs, targeting teenagers and young adults,” Mr Watson said.

“We support a number of organisations that operate in that space, including surf life saving, and that community service element is something we look for in a partner.

Johnathan Thurston is a role model in the community and both the academy and JT’s personal brand are a perfect fit with Vivid and our sister company, Vivid Indigenous Services.

“We have a national footprint and recruit employees in regional, rural and remote areas, so working closely with the JT Academy will help give us a greater voice and a profile in this very important employment space.”

Mr Watson said Vivid Property Services had a strong focus on making a difference in peoples’ lives, including providing sponsorship and support such as it did for an Indigenous soccer team that competed in the 2019 national titles.

Former Brisbane Roar player Jade North – one of the first Indigenous men to play soccer for Australia – will be working closely with the JT Academy in his role as Vivid’s Client Relationship Manager.

“Jade is making his transition from professional sport into a business career and working with a guy like JT they will be fantastic role models and able to make a meaningful impact for so many young people,” Mr Watson said.

“We like to think we are putting our money where our mouth is in helping to make a difference and our partnership with the JT Academy will prove to be mutually beneficial.”

JT Academy General Manager Samantha Johnson welcomed the partnership with Vivid as another vital part of being able to develop and delivering high-quality programs that equipped young jobseekers with the right skills, knowledge, and attributes to make a significant and positive future impact.

“Through strong partnerships with employers such as Vivid, we are committed to supporting individuals to reach personal, educational, and career goals,” she said.

“It’s about installing the confidence in young Australians that there are opportunities out there and there are people and companies who want to make a solid commitment.”

Academy Managing Director Johnathan Thurston also welcomed the partnership.

“By joining forces with like-minded organisations such as Vivid, we are supporting our nation’s youth and growing their skills helps to build their confidence and unleash their full potential,” he said.

“The JT Academy programs aim to empower individuals with confidence, courage, self-belief and incorporate wellbeing and mental health conversations in all our programs.”

JT Academy becoming a leading provider of employment initiatives

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The Johnathan Thurston Academy is fast becoming a leading provider of outstanding employment initiatives and one of our key platforms in that is the JTJobBoard.

This free service for all jobseekers and employers is part of a unique platform that connects jobseekers to all our employment partners in communities throughout the nation.

And in an age when systems and processes seem designed to make things more complicated for jobseekers, the JTJobBoard couldn’t be easier.

With just a few clicks of a mouse, jobseekers can explore a range of positions with employers such as Lendlease, Evolution Mining and Accor, to name a few. They can find all the details about a position and even apply directly through the website if it interests them.

A simple search field enables jobseekers to narrow down their job searches by location and work type and they can even see what positions are trending.

By registering for JTHotJobs, they will receive regular alerts on positions that have become available.

The JT Academy team is dedicated to working with companies, organisations and industries to provide stronger, more diversified economies by generating quality job opportunities that attract and retain a skilled and diverse workforce.

We work together with our clients and partners to drive employment outcomes, acting as a destination for jobseekers and employers.

And hand-in-hand with the JTJobBoard, we provide high-quality programs that equip participants with the right skills, knowledge and attributes to make a significant and positive future impact.

Through strong partnerships and initiatives such as the JTJobBoard, we are committed to supporting individuals to reach personal, educational and career goals.

JT and his Academy celebrate their second birthday

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For much of his rugby league career, Johnathan Thurston made young fans’ dreams come true by handing them his headgear at the end of a match.

Now the JT Academy is fast becoming a leading national provider of outstanding employment initiatives and community programs aimed at employment, education, and wellbeing.

“It’s always been something that’s been close to my heart and throughout my playing career I was very aware of the importance of being a role model to all kids, and especially Indigenous kids,” JT said as the JT Academy celebrated its second birthday in February 2020.

JT first had the idea for the academy in 2010, after he and members of his family undertook a pilgrimage to the Mitchell area to reconnect with his past.

“I realised I had the platform through rugby league to make a difference for the next generation and I had such a passion for education and keeping kids in school and to start having conversations about what came after school, whether it’s about further education or getting a head start into employment,” he said.

Today, the JT Academy’s key strengths are its robust employment, community, and education engagement platforms and capability. They are a powerful brand and a national ambassador of positive messaging and Johnathan Thurston, as Managing Director and driver of the Academy, leads his team with a passion for his culture and our nation’s youth.

JT Academy General Manager Samantha Johnson said the academy team work tirelessly in developing and delivering high-quality programs equipping participants with the right skills, knowledge, and attributes to make a significant and positive future impact.

“Through strong partnerships, we are committed to supporting individuals to reach personal, educational, and career goals,” she said.

“We want the process to be more than ticking a box. It’s about installing the confidence in young Australians that there are opportunities out there and there are people and companies who want to make a solid commitment and show what real leadership looks like.

“The more Australians we can help find work, which is long-lasting, the more successful we have been.”

Using their powerful engagement capabilities, the JTAcademy team strives to reach and engage individuals and communities to increase workforce participation.  It is dedicated to working with companies, organisations, and industries and has a clear goal to provide stronger, more diversified economies across the nation by generating quality job opportunities and attracting and retaining a skilled and diverse workforce.

“We know that supporting our nation’s youth and growing their skills helps to build their confidence and unleash their full potential,” Johnathan says. “The JT Academy programs aim to empower individuals with confidence, courage, self-belief and incorporate wellbeing and mental health conversations in all our programs.

“Our goal with our community programs is to create an ongoing pipeline of amazing individuals and leaders who will not only step up to influence policy and drive change, also developing those who will be ready and inspired to enter employment with full confidence.

“We aim to harness the potential of a powerful and positive network, for a sustainable long-term collaborative approach.”

The Johnathan Thurston Academy is a community of learning through storytelling of personal growth and experience from one generation to the next.  Participants achieve personal growth and life success through the inspiration of belief. However, the greatest lessons they learn from the Johnathan Thurston Academy and Johnathan’s messaging is how to inspire others to go on and achieve the same

“It’s been a busy two years for everyone at the academy and it’s good to see just how much we have achieved in such a short time,” JT said. “It has already exceeded my original expectations.

“A highlight for me was watching eight of our JTWomenToLead participants on stage with a microphone in their hand at our client Christmas party last year – each telling their story.

“There was not a dry eye in the audience – including myself. I was so incredibly proud of how far they had come.

“We have got plenty more ahead this year, with some big plans for employment and education.

“I want to thank all our partners for their ongoing support, without them – we could not do what we do.”

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.

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

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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

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