I am hoping that I am not alone in this, but do you think every year about this time it gets busier and busier? It’s the usual ‘silly season’ stuff, plus work. Once upon time, people slowed down noticeably; now it’s a million miles an hour right up to Christmas Day.
However, before heading to the festive season, I just wanted to share one bit of recent news about an athlete I have long admired and, I am proud to say, has been a SKINS sponsored athlete for more than 10 years.
I’m talking of Johnathan Thurston, the Australian rugby league great who plays with North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
Amongst our group of sponsored athletes, JT has always been one of the first to want to help with some of the social issues we’ve advanced.
Most notably in Australia, that has been the #RainbowLaces campaign to bring awareness of the need to eliminate homophobia from sport. SKINS established this campaign in Australia in 2016 and continued it again this year. Both times, JT was a prominent spokesperson for the cause.
I was absolutely thrilled to learn that earlier this month, JT was given two accolades. First, he was named as the 2018 Queenslander of the Year, which means he is a finalist for the Australian of the Year named on Australia Day in January. And second, he was awarded the prestigious Human Rights Medal for 2017 by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
JT was recognised for his status as a role model to thousands of young kids, and more importantly as a mentor to Indigenous students. He has worked for years – well before his status as a ‘great’ of the game of rugby league – to help young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children improve their access to education. The team he plays for, the North Queensland Cowboys, has a Cowboys House which gives students from remote communities accommodation and mentoring while they attend school in which JT is very active.
JT is also active in a wonderful program known as Deadly Kindies for kindergarten children to help support and strengthen their Indigenous identity.
He was his usual quiet and humble self in accepting the Medal from the President of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Rosalind Croucher, saying that he is only one person in a community or people working to build better lives for Indigenous Australians.
But his profile and influence, especially in the big rugby league states of New South Wales and Queensland and amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is immense.
It’s an award well-deserved. Congratulations JT and well done – and thanks for being part of the SKINS journey with us also.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone all the best for the festive season. I hope it’s a great Christmas and a happy and healthy 2018.