Staff Spotlight: Kate Thomas

Kate Thomas – CHJS Australia Lead Consultant

Meet Kate Thomas, our sole yet mighty CHJS representative in Australia. Kate has spearheaded numerous healing-centered sport initiatives throughout Australia and is just getting started. Learn more about Kate and the CHJS work she’s up to throughout the region. 


Where are you from/where did you grow up?

I am from Australia and grew up in Regional Victoria, a small South Gippsland town called Korumburra. However, I also spent a few years of my childhood living in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, where my parents were part of a volunteer program – life-changing!!  I left Korumburra (and my family) when I was 16 to live in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport for three years on a basketball scholarship.


Kate Thomas, CHJS Australia Lead Consultant, with her two boys

What sports do you play?

Growing up, I was lucky enough to participate in a wide range of sports, including netball, swimming, and athletics, but my main love was (and still is) basketball.


Tell us about sports in Australia. What’s the vibe? What’s most popular? Do you think Australia would dominate the States in all sports? 

Sport is an integral part of Australian culture, with a wide range of sports enjoyed by people of all ages across the country. Australia’s most popular sports include Australian Rules Football, basketball, Football (Soccer), Rugby (League and Union), Tennis, Golf, Surfing, Netball, Cricket, and Swimming. By population alone (333 million in the US V’s 25 million in Australia), the US probably has the edge in dominating sport. However, we Aussies hold our own, never back down from a challenge and are not too far off the pace! We are a nation of fierce competitors!


As great as sport is, what do you wish would change?

So much—number one would be access. Unlike in the US, sport is only sometimes played in school. Furthermore, our model (Federated) means that most of the time, you have to pay to play outside of school hours and often travel. This limits so many children, young people and families from being able to play. Consequently, a notable lack of equity in Australian sport results in an uneven playing field.

Secondly, we need to shift the focus away from high-performance pathways and towards lifelong participation. In Australia, the pressure on young athletes to specialise early in a single sport often leads to burnout in teenage years. This pressure arises from sporting codes fear of losing them to other sport.

Furthermore, Sport for Development remains underdeveloped and underfunded in Australia. However, we can draw inspiration and knowledge from successful sport-for-development models in the US and the UK. By adopting more of these approaches, we can reduce barriers to access, allowing children and young people to feel safe and included whilst getting all the amazing benefits we know sport can offer.


What do you wish all coaches knew?

More about childhood development in general (so they have realistic expectations of what to expect from a young person at each age and stage), and this includes how the brain works, develops and is impacted by overwhelming stress.  This knowledge is a game changer for anyone who has the privilege of working with young people. It changes the way you approach communication, behaviour management, skill building and builds your empathy muscle – something the world needs more of! This understanding will make you a better coach, parent, leader, partner, friend, and person, resulting in better outcomes for the young people you coach.


What goals do you have for CHJS Australia/Oceania?

We have numerous goals for CHJS in Australia/Oceania! We aim to further enhance the remarkable efforts already underway in the US and disseminate the invaluable knowledge of Healing-Centered Sport, Coaching Girls, and Systems Change throughout the country. Additionally, we aim to continue cultivating robust partnerships and foster strong relationships with organisations that provide safe spaces and accessible programs for all young people to play sport and work together to advocate for systemic change. This year, we will focus on establishing a stronger Australian presence for CHJS, enabling us to extend our initiatives and impact across a broader audience.


Are there any events or training you want people to know about and attend?

We are partnering up with Welcoming Australia to deliver FREE Healing-Centered Sport workshops in May! Stay tuned for more details, or contact me to learn more.  


Any fun facts you want to share?

I am a mum of two boys who keep me on my toes. I have played basketball in eight countries, all before the age of 20! 


Want to join Kate in building the healing-centered sport movement throughout Oceania? Reach out to Kate,