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He’s an NRL legend, a TV presenter, a Townsville local, a loving father-of-four and a passionate advocate and ambassador for Indigenous Australians.

As he points out –  there’s many ways to advocate for change. 

The launch of JTAcademy in 2018 was the beginning of Johnathan Thurston providing opportunities with a difference. JT’s programs include a central online portal where young Australians and businesses can connect, allowing youth access to employment, training and education they would not have otherwise had.

“There are a lot of young Australians living in isolated or remote communities who just don’t have the opportunities we would like them to have,” JT said in an interview about the initial launch.

“And sadly, those in urban communities can face just as tough a time from it depending on their community, and what they have been taught to believe about what they can hope for and dream of being.”

New opportunities with a Difference

This is exactly why JT launched JTAcademy – to connect youth with new opportunities. Johnathan, who lives in Townsville with his wife, Samantha and their four young daughters – Frankie, Charlie, Lillie and Remie – knows first hand just how important it is to provide opportunities for our youth.

“By developing a website where employers can post jobs, apprenticeships and training programs Australian kids can see and apply for, is providing opportunities which we believe will change the future.”

“The work we are doing is far-reaching, because it has to be,” JT said. “We want young Australians to believe they have a future and to believe that they have the power within themselves to reach for it. These programs have all been designed specifically to do that and to give them the additional tools and connections to achieve what we hope will be positive and productive futures which inspire others within their communities.”

Of course, this isn’t the only time JT has made a difference in his community. The legendary NRL star was awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal for his work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in 2017. He also won the Queenslander of the Year award and in 2018 was nominated for the Australian of the Year award.

Fittingly, JT was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours, for his off-field contributions as a community role model. A massive congrats to JT on this incredible honour.

Get involved in the JTAcademy

Businesses can help by advertising their jobs through the JTAcademy and on the JTJobBoard. They are also encouraged to speak about corporate partnerships with companies who share values and ethos.

“We have already seen thousands register for the JTJobBoard, and have successfully delivered school programs,” JT explains.

Schools can help by running JTBelieve programs designed to help kids believe from an early age that they can have a bright future and achieve incredible things. The more JTAcademy can partner with schools, the more they can work together to help youth and, by extension, the larger community.

Kids can help themselves by getting on the website and having a look. They may be too young to start applying for jobs but there are online courses they can do to help build confidence and self-esteem. There are also courses to teach them about job hunting, resume writing and interviewing.

There are a number of portals within the JTAcademy website that cater to specific groups. For example, the JTLeadLikeAGirl program provides mentoring and support for girls aged 14-17 aiming to empower participants in developing confidence, courage and self-belief.

The JTOnlineLearning and JTResources has been designed to boost self-esteem and confidence, and JTSucceed is an employment program providing additional support and training to help individuals get into the workforce.

Families and the community can also help by encouraging young kids, believing in them and spreading word of initiatives such as the JTAcademy. Designed with the sole purpose of helping and inspiring our young people to unleash their full potential, be a part of helping Thurston providing opportunities with a difference!

Visit the JTAcademy website for further information, or email