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Johnathan Thurston to set off on the last leg of tour of Cape York and Central Queensland to promote wellbeing in remote Indigenous communities

Published on 17 Nov 2021

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Rugby league great Johnathan Thurston and the JT Academy team will travel the final leg of their successful tour of Cape York and Central Queensland Indigenous communities on Thursday (November 18) to promote health and wellbeing for kids and their families.

The tour started on Wednesday November 3 and has included Aurukun, Hope Vale, Woorabinda and a surprise visit to Yarrabah. The last visit is to Bamaga, where the academy will continue to deliver their empowering JTBelieve workshop which encourages attendees to believe in themselves and make positive decisions for their families’ wellbeing.

The tour has been made possible thanks to a partnership with Queensland Health.

“The visits have seen the academy host Johnathan’s signature JTBelieve program in each community, meet with local community leaders and visit Queensland Health-operated vaccination clinics to show support of the state-wide vaccination program,” Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Beverley Hamerton said

“The JTBelieve sessions have been well attended as they provide a platform for a Q&A with well-known Far North Queensland Indigenous doctor Mark Wenitong and Indigenous nurse Kelly Trudgen to deliver information individuals are seeking about the vaccine and vaccination.”

An extra part of the tour saw Johnathan make a personal pledge to sponsor Yarrabah’s female and male rugby teams, the Seahawks, if the community met their 70% vaccination target by December. He made a surprise visit to Yarrabah last week to deliver the message last week and promised to be their biggest supporter if they met the target.

Johnathan, the Managing Director of JT Academy, says the tour has been incredible and they are looking forward to visiting Bamaga.

“Visiting the communities and delivering our JTBelieve workshops has been such a privilege and joy,” Johnathan said. “I want to say a big thanks to the communities we have visited and their leaders who have warmly welcomed us with open arms. The big smiles and hugs have truly made this trip and really confirmed to myself and the team that these workshops are hitting home.

“Everyone has been so responsive to our message and our workshop, which is designed to inspire, educate and, hopefully, spark open conversations around mental health and wellbeing.

“Since we started the academy, we’ve always worked towards building confidence, courage and self-belief and these workshops have really proven that this message is needed.

“The workshops and the conversations with Dr Wenitong and nurse Kelly Trudgen have been connecting directly with the school children, the families and the larger communities.

“Now, more than ever, we need to speak about these topics while also having open conversations around mental health and wellbeing,” he said.

“Thank you to Queensland Health for sponsoring this tour and working with us to be able to deliver this vital program to our communities.”

Dr Wenitong said the message delivered by Johnathan and the academy, during these visits, has been incredible to watch and will have long lasting health benefits for the participants.

“The social and emotional skills that are imparted and built as part of these workshops are incredibly powerful and will make a long-lasting difference with our kids and the wider community,” Dr Wenitong said.

“These visits will go a long way towards enriching their emotional, physical and personal wellbeing, today and in the future.

“I’m very proud and fortunate to be part of this. The conversations we are having in each community have been enriching and show a genuine thirst for information, learning and open conversations.”


Johnathan Thurston Academy pays the deepest respect to the Traditional Custodians of Country across Australia. We acknowledge and thank our Elders who demonstrated over 60,000 years of sustainable Indigenous business and ask them to guide us back on track to a more prosperous and purposeful future.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have passed away.