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We have all heard that old and outdated expression that diamonds are a girl’s best friend; Australia’s Gold Industry Group (GIG) would like to change that to gold is the land of opportunity for women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.

JTEverydayPeople – meet Lagaau

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Lagaau is not like most girls her age. Sure, like any other teenager she enjoys music, sports, spending time with friends and family and planning/organising things, but through her life Lagaau has had to overcome a great many difficulties “I have gone through depression at one point in life and it was one of the hardest and darkest times of my life. I would never go through a day without crying. I would cry every morning when I’m in bed, every night when I’m going to sleep, and every time I had time to myself. I constantly had distressing thoughts when I’m out of home, especially in school.”

Lagaau is currently in year 11 at Woodridge State High School and is finding school “really hard and challenging”. Not having all the resources you need for school at home is a great struggle for any student, but combined with leaving your homeland and everyone you know to adapt to a new life would be a great burden on many people. “Having to leave my home country, Samoa, at the age of 10, for New Zealand was very heartbreaking. Having to leave everyone I knew and adapting to a new life and environment was hard. Not knowing how to speak English and constantly moving schools four years in a row, a different school each year, slowed my education down even more.”

But despite such hardships and difficulties with the English language, Lagaau is driven to work hard for what she wants. “School motivates me to keep going and keep doing the best I can. It reminds me that everything is possible when we put our hearts and minds into it and that there is always a way to achieve a goal. It may not come as we expected, but as we work hard, we will eventually achieve it.”

When asked about her goals for schooling Lagaau said proudly that she is “hoping to pass all my subjects by the end of the school year and have a great work network after I graduate high school.” After school, she aims to attend University to study a bachelor degree in Social Work or a double degree in Behavioral Science (Psychology) and Social Work.

With such a profound interest in social work, Lagaau told us that she aims to be a social worker focusing on young people in high schools or a mentor at an NRL club. “I am passionate about helping young people and I love helping others whenever I can. I love putting a smile on someone’s face and I do this by joking with them, sharing my experiences with them, and helping them with whatever they need.”

Through her hardships, Lagaau has learned many life lessons that she wishes to share with others. “Through the time of my distressing thoughts, I kept reminding myself not to harm myself. I kept asking myself ‘Why would I do this to myself?, ‘What would my family and the people around me feel?’. But I always knew that life is way more precious than anything else. I always knew that this dark hour of my life will change me in how I see others and will turn me into a stronger person than I was before. Never forget that you will become a better and stronger person in the end and that you will inspire others through your experience. It is never too late to change your current mindset. Facing difficulties or hardships will not bury us down but rather make us stronger than what we can ever imagine.”

Such profound words from a young woman in grade 11. Lagaau’s story is a powerful example that you can overcome anything, and like the JTWomenToLead motto says ‘Girls Can Do Anything’.


If you or someone you know would like to talk to somebody, help is available from:

Kids Helpline: Free 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
Available 24/7 Call: 1800 55 1800 Website: kidshelpline.com.au

Johnathan Thurston wrong foots Woodridge High with a visit

Johnathan Thurston at Woodridge

A visit by Johnathan Thurston to Woodridge State High School in late 2018 as part of the JTSucceed program, caught the students as off-guard as he used to catch his opponents on the footy field.

The JTSucceed program has been developed to encourage students to attend school, to develop their confidence and self-belief and to not give up on their dreams.

“My message is don’t be scared of failing, be more scared of not giving it a go. I want to encourage as many youth as I can to keep turning up to school and to keep believing in themselves,” Thurston said in the story.

Woodridge State High’s Employment Connections Coach, Rhiannon Parsons organised the program for the school and added: “We know Johnathan Thurston is a major role model for the majority of our student population, and he has built such a great reputation for himself that we knew it would be a great program that our students would be excited to be a part of”.

To read the full story click here.

JT steps up to help young women lead

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Speaking with Danielle Buckley from the Albert & Logan News in March, Woodridge State High School Principal Kathleen Janecek said she was “privileged and excited” her students were among the first to undertake the JTWomenToLead program.

The JTWomenToLead program has been developed to help female high school students receive mentoring and support.

“What’s really inspiring about these students is that diversity is normal for them,” Janecek said.“They’re already very resilient and this program will help them be even more self-aware at an earlier age.”

The 14 girls chosen to take part in the program are in Years 9, 10 and 11.

To see the full story click here.



International Women’s Day – Why it Matters

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Happy International Women’s Day! And I do mean everybody because we all have a part to play in helping days like this matter. 

It may seem a bit strange to have a footy player talking about why International Women’s Day matters. But I am talking about it because it really is important and long past time that we work together as a society to help everyone be the best version of themselves.

 The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter with an aim of bringing to attention to the fact that “balance drives a better world”.

I have been lucky enough to reach the top of my career in what has been very much a male dominated world, but at home I am in a completely female dominated world with my wife Sam and our four daughters.

Now I am retired from footy, I am working with the JTAcademy to help Australians of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities to access the resources and support they need to be a success within their community.

An important part of this is the JTWomenToLead, which we launched this year at Woodridge State High School, where 14 young women from Years 9 to 11 are being offered special mentoring and career guidance to empower them to stay in education, build confidence, and bravery to follow their dreams and become our leaders of the future.

The more we can support and encourage young women to strive for the careers of their dreams, the more we level the playing field and, as a society, will benefit from their success.

Why do we need to support something like International Women’s Day?

The fact is that while we have been making some progress in the past decade towards closing the gender pay gap, in Australia men on average earn 14.1 per cent more than women, the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equity Agency tells us.

What’s more, in Australia, the gender gap favours men working full-time over women working full-time across every single industry and occupational category.

A gender pay gap of 14.1 per cent is simply not OK. Not for women working today or the next generation or the generation after that.

Hopefully, through days like International Women’s Day, where we work to promote awareness of the fact our world does not always offer equal opportunities, we can change this.


For more on International Women’s Day, check out the website
and if you are keen to hear more about our JTWomenToLead program click here.

Future Leaders Announced for the First JTWomenToLead Program

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A group of 14 students from Woodridge State High School has been selected to the be the first to participate in the JTWomenToLead program delivered by the Johnathan Thurston Academy.

The program has been designed to encourage, educate, empower and inspire young women to reach for their dreams so they can become role models and future leaders for their community.

The first JTWomenToLead program will be held at the school for the 15 Year 9 and Year 10 students in 2019 with the young women chosen to participate being named as: Gloriose Irankunda, Brooke Hornery, Nelleah Morganson, Folau Uhatafe, Iang Lian Lin, Chantal Heri, Lagaau Leaa, Tiarne, Aoina-Weir, Kathleen Fraser, Aisha Hatungimana, Jeshiana Tsang, Lily O’Shea Grissell, Felicity Blake, Jasmine Walker.

The JTWomenToLead program will cover goal setting, developing leadership skills and then working on plans to build the career or life path they want for themselves.

The program has been made possible by the sponsorship of Brisbane law firm Meneghello Law.

Students at the school were invited to submit their applications in the form of a 10 second video for the first JTWomenToLead program, which is tailored to each group of participants to help support and encourage them into the workforce.

“Girls should have equal rights as boys in sport,” one girl said. “They should be advertised the same on TV and there should be equality.”

Another offered her opinion on women STEM fields stating simply:
“young women can do math and science because they are unstoppable”.

While a third young woman said: “What I want to see for the next generation is young women to speak up, being pushed to their limits, being bold and most importantly to never give up”.

Kathleen Janecek, Principal of Woodridge State High School explained the school developed its relationship with the JT Academy after their employment connections coach heard about the work they were doing and wanted the school to be involved.

The JT Academy has already held some sessions at the school under the JTSucceed program, which Kathleen said had resulted in increased confidence of the school’s students.

WSHS is excited about our young woman being a part of this program as it provides them with further opportunity to be Connected to Every WorldIt serves to value add to their learning experience to ensure they graduate empowered, connected and future focused young leaders with a world of opportunity at their feet” Kathleen explained.

“Through the projects that the girls will undertake they will be provided with the opportunity to make a positive impact on their local community, fellow peers and broaden their horizons to effect change on the world’s stage.

“We hope the program will inspire our young women to embrace their place in the world and recognise the impact that they can have when they believe in themselves and their potential to make a difference in the lives of others.”

The support of Meneghello Law has been invaluable in providing this opportunity to students at the school.

“We are certain that the outcomes of the program will be positive and future programs will be extremely popular,” she said. “Peer mentoring in our community is powerful!  When students can see other students overcoming barriers and rising to a challenge they are empowered to do the same.”  

Daniel Meneghello, the principal of Meneghello Law, is proud to sponsor Australia’s first JTWomentoLead program at the school for 15 young girls aged between 13 and 14.

The commitment to sponsor the first JTWomenToLead program was made by Danial Meneghello and the team at Meneghello Law following a recent episode of 60 Minutes where Thurston visited the school.

“I am not sure the JT Academy will change the world, but it certainly has the potential to help plenty of people and is driven by people who are clearly passionate about making that happen,” Daniel explained.

“This is our way of doing our bit and we believe it is a valuable initiative. This is such a good program, we were excited to be able to sponsor the first of its kind.

“The end goal of the program is to help change people’s lives for the better so they can then go on to become role models themselves for their children, their peers and their community.”

Thurston said he hoped the program participants will “achieve personal growth and life success by being inspired”.

 “We want to help young and mature women find work, support indigenous women seeking to find employment and increase the levels of female participation in the areas of sport, politics, business, STEM (science, tech, engineering, maths) fields and mining,” Thurston said.

“I want for my three daughters to grow up in a world where they have an equal seat, equal pay, and equal say around any boardroom table.”

To learn more about this program visit the JT Academy here.