St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson has is  a finalist for the prestigious 2016 Ken Stephen Award for his on-going work in the community.

The Ken Stephens Medal recognises the efforts of an NRL player who has not only achieved success and leadership on-field, but contributed to community projects off-field to make a positive difference and change.

The five-time Indigenous All Star is competing against three other players for the award but has made it his personal goal to inspire others, drawing upon his own life experiences.

He has a great story to tell.

He arrived at the Red-and-Whites ahead of the 2014 season from the Canberra Raiders where he had already began to establish himself as a leader in the community.

He understands better than most about hardships family can face.

He identifies with the struggles families can have and is very much part of the driving force behind Joel’s off field actions.

"I come from pretty humble beginnings, I moved around a fair bit and I saw a lot of things that kids probably shouldn't see growing up," said Thompson.

"A lot of violence, a lot of drugs, a lot of issues to do with alcohol and domestic violence ... some things that scar me even today.”

Thompson is a NRL State of Mind Ambassador which is a role that he identifies with, a role that he is only too happy to be involved with.

Furthermore, he is also involved in the Dragons Indigenous Mentoring Programs, which support two after school indigenous learning centres in conjunction with The Smith Family based in Bellambi and Port Kembla.

He is also passionate about informing kids about having a healthy lifestyle and tips on how to achieve this.

Thompson therefore appears in the 2016 Dragons School Diary ‘The Best You Can Be’ giving tips and guidance across ‘being active’, ‘eating a healthy breakfast’ and ‘anger management’.

The NSW Country Origin representative is also a strong advocate for our early childhood resilience program ‘Dusty and Friends’, the Club's ‘State of Mind’ prevention program for kids.

As a ‘State of Mind’ Ambassador, the second-rower sees the importance of reaching kids at a young, impressible age.

Joel’s Achievements

  • NRL State of Mind Ambassador 2015, 2016

  • Accepted into UOW commencing a Bachelor Of Social Work 2016

  • Strong advocate for Dragons School to Work program 2016

  • NRL Dream Believe Achieve Ambassador 2015

  • Dragons Indigenous Program Mentor 2014, 2015

  • A.I.M.E guest speaker 2014, 2015

  • Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre Program Mentor 2013

  • Dragons School Diary 2015, 2016

  • Attained a Certificate 4 in Drug and Alcohol, Mental Health and Community Services 2014

  • Mission Australia Volunteer 2014, 2015

  • Terry Campese ‘Feeding the Homeless’ program ambassador 2013

  • Juvenile Justice Volunteer with Ken Nagas 2013

Special Club Awards

  • Dragons “Geoff Selby Memorial” NRL Coaches Award: 2014

  • Dragons Ken Stephen Award Nominee 2015

  • Dragons ‘Community Involvement Award’ 2015

  • Dragons ‘Community Involvement Award’ nominee: 2016