Johnathan Thurston remembers sitting in a classroom and being lectured about Captain Cook and Kurnell, hearing all about the First Fleet and the foreigners who settled in Australia. It never really sat right with him.
“That’s what we were taught at school,” the NRL legend said. “When I went to school, while we celebrated NAIDOC week we didn’t really learn about the history of Australia or the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
“We need to make sure people are well aware of the history of Australia and what has happened with the stolen generation and genocide since colonisation. I think if we can start doing that more at a school level and really opening up our eyes to the rest of the country about how bad it was and how far we’ve come as a culture, a lot of people might have a different view of the First Nations people.”
The former Australia, Queensland and North Queensland halfback – one of the most loved and respected figures in the game having hung up his boots last year – has been a proud Indigenous advocate throughout his entire career. In retirement, his focus on the plight of his people has only sharpened.