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North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain and Indigenous ambassador Johnathan Thurston has been announced as a finalist for the 2017 Human Rights Medal.

Thurston a driving force for change
JT wins Qld Australian of the Year
NRL Cowboys House

The 2017 Queensland Australian of the Year is one of six outstanding finalists to be named today by the Australian Human Rights Commission, a precursor to the announcement of the Medal winner at the Human Rights Awards on Friday 8 December.  

In Thurston's nomination, the Human Rights Commission recogised "his ongoing commitment to improving the life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians".

"Johnathan is a role model and mentor and is involved in a multitude of community programs including NRL Cowboys House which provides support and accommodation for Indigenous students from remote Queensland communities." []

Thurston's fellow finalists include:

  • Chrissie and Anthony Foster, who spent more than 20 years advocating and campaigning for survivors of child sex abuse, and helped bring about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Dr John Malouf, an Ear, Nose and Throat, Head and Neck surgeon who has provided free surgical outreach programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities in Queensland for the past decade. 
  • Walter Mikac, an advocate for strong gun control, Founding Patron of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation and committed to the protection and rights of children by providing a voice for victims of serious violence and/or bullying.
  • Sonya Ryan, campaigner for stronger laws to protect young people online and founder of the Carly Ryan Foundation.
  • Ben Quilty, renowned artist and human rights advocate who has campaigned tirelessly against the death penalty.

Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher congratulated the finalists for their outstanding work as fearless advocates protecting and advancing human rights in Australia.

Tickets for the Human Rights Awards in Sydney are available at

Thurston was also recognised last week for his work in improving access to education and creating positive life outcomes for young Indigenous Australians with his award for Queensland Australian of the Year.

He now takes his place in a cohort of 32 State and Territory recipients for the national Australian of the Year awards, which will be held in Canberra on 25 January 2018.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.