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JT poses with members of the KCCI Executive … back row, secretary Paula Greenwood (PG Mobile Bookkeeping), Jacqui Trace (Bill Hull Car Centre), Lachlan Brown (Pakaderinga), Darrin Kefford (Kingaroy Joinery), Michael Sanford (Bunyarra Counselling), Rob Fitz-Herbert (RYZA) and David Musch (Ken Mills Toyota); front row, president Damien Martoo (CROW-FM), Johnathan Thurston and Daniel Pelcl (Burnett Today)


The South Burnett has played host for the past few days to retired rugby league superstar Johnathan Thurston AM.

Thurston’s stellar career includes stints with the Kangaroos, Maroons, Indigenous All Stars and North Queensland Cowboys as well as numerous awards including multiple Dally M medals, the Clive Churchill Medal and Golden Boot awards.

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Thurston was brought to the South Burnett to share insights from his JT Academy program with young people at local schools, older men and the general community.

(And also sign more than a few autographs).

He visited Kingaroy State High School and St Mary’s Catholic College on Monday, took in a Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce meet’n’greet on Monday night and visited the Murgon Men’s Shed and Murgon State High School on Tuesday before being the special guest at a big community event at Kingaroy Town Hall on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, he was due to surprise the students at Nanango State High School and Yarraman P-9.

Thurston said his JT Academy aimed to inspire the next generation to be the best that they can be.

“Every program that we run is about confidence, courage and self-belief,” he said.

“They are the three characteristics that I had to display as a teenager to help me get where I am today.”

KCCI Meet’n’Greet

The South Burnett Eagles hosted the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s May meet’n’greet on Monday night, with Thurston as the special guest.

KCCI meet’n’greets are always well-attended, but this one – held at the Kingaroy Red Ants’ clubhouse – broke records with more than 100 people booked in.

Guests listened intently as Thurston and JT Academy general manager Samantha Johnston explained the philosophy behind the Academy, which has been working with communities in the Torres Strait, Yarrabah and Kowanyama.

Other meet’n’greet highlights:

  • South Burnett Rugby League president Dave Tierney spoke about the successful “Beyond The Nest” training program which is teaching young players the finer points of rugby league as well as discipline.
  • Cr Danita Potter, from the South Burnett Suicide Prevention Working Group, explained how the JT Academy tour of the South Burnett came about after a group of local people recognised the need to reach out to young people at high school and older men. They spoke to Queensland Health and the South Burnett Regional Council.
  • South Burnett Relay For Life patron Carl Rackemann said the upcoming launch of this year’s fundraising campaign would be held at a community charity breakfast at the Kingaroy RSL Club on June 3, hosted by the KCCI. Tickets can be booked online
  • KCCI Executive member Michael Sanford (Bunyarra Counselling) said Minister Di Farmer had been on the telephone within hours after he and KCCI president Damien Martoo made a presentation at a conference in Townsville about the Chamber’s SMILE mental health initiative. It would now be rolled out via the CCIQ to 50 chambers across Queensland.
  • The next SMILE gala event will be held on October 14.
  • The KCCI has received a grant from Stanwell Corporation to complete the fitout of the Hub building in Kingaroy Street, which should now open at the end of July.
  • The next KCCI meet’n’greet will be hosted by the new South Burnett Youth Council on June 14.
  • The KCCI is urging members to sign an online petition, organised by the Australian Counselling Association, for Medicare rebates to be paid to counsellors.