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.”