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About Reason To Thrive

Reason to Thrive (RTT) is a registered charity, and public benevolent institution, founded in Warwick in 2017. In mid-2018 Reason to Thrive took a different direction, and the organisation was moved to the western-suburbs of Brisbane to begin its new life providing benevolent, life-skills programs, to at-risk youth, young men, women and families, through a hands-on, practical learning modality, known as Equine Assisted Learning (EAL).

Our evidence-based EAL programs promote mental, physical and social wellbeing, and have been developed by allied and mental health professionals, to support young people at-risk of disengagement from formal education, family or community, as well as women and families whose lives have been impacted by trauma, grief, abuse, loss, incarceration, mental health issues, domestic and family violence.  

All of our EAL programs take place in Kholo (western suburbs of Brisbane), on a private property, that provides participants a tranquil and calming environment to learn about themselves, and build essential skills, to better handle the daily challenges in their lives.

Our Mission

To build individual resilience through recovery and prevention programs, utilising hands-on Equine Assisted Learning ground-based activities, to support vulnerable and disengaged people in our community.

Our Vision

Learning from connecting with horses, to develop insights, and build essential skills, to grow strong communities.

Our Team

Equine Programs Manager / Secretary (Non-Statutory)

Michelle Beatty

Michelle has had horses her entire life and after holding many management positions in operational roles within heavy industry, agriculture, aviation, travel sectors, she made a life-changing decision to follow her passion and work with horses in a professional capacity.

Michelle has now spent 15-years in the equine industry in a variety of different roles, including many years on the management team of McIntyre Centre, Riding for Disabled Inc, the largest RDA organisation in Australasia. Her years of experience and knowledge of the therapeutic benefits that horses bring to humans influenced her decision to become a certified Equine Assisted Learning facilitator in early 2019.

Michelle’s drive and passion for supporting women and families in our community to help them gain essential skills and personal growth to be able to face the daily challenges of life, is the reason why our EAL programs are in such demand.

Michelle radiates warmth, compassion, empathy for EVERY participant who attends. Michelle and her team of facilitators, and special horses, are the reason why a number of young people and women in our community have now been able to make positive changes in their lives, find new work and find their voice again.
Michelle currently holds the non-statutory, non-voting position of Secretary on the Reason to Thrive Inc Committee.

Business Development Manager / Committee Member

Julie Tom

Julie brings a potent mix of skills and energy to Reason to Thrive: a love of horses, deep experience in fundraising, and a passion to build corporate and community partnerships that benefit the whole community.

Julie has been working in the marketing and event management industries for more than 38 years, both in the corporate and not-for-profit industries. She has had horses in her life for over 20 years and has spent many years working on the management team at McIntyre Centre, Riding for Disabled Inc, the largest RDA Centre in Australasia.

Julie is excited about being part of Reason to Thrive and working hard to give young at-risk people, and women whose lives have been impacted by domestic/family violence, the opportunity to learn alongside these powerful and natural teachers.

Reason to Thrive promotes “if we have the funds, we run a program”. Thanks to Julie’s passion for fundraising and building strong client relationships, Reason to Thrive has been able to consistently provide benevolent programs each and every term that they have been operating.

Julie’s goal is to partner with as many Trusts, Foundations, Corporate and community groups as possible, whose social responsibility is to support disengaged and disadvantaged youth, women and families in our community.

She says, “I know Reason to Thrive is a small grassroot charity, but when we collaborate with like-minded people and organisations, we CAN make a huge difference to someone’s life and their lifestyle choices”.

Julie credits horses with teaching her patience, empathy and giving her better listening skills, and thoroughly enjoys watching these equine teachers help participants learn to build the necessary skills for them to handle their daily challenges of life.

EAL Facilitator

Grace Beatty

Although Grace was not born in a stable, she has certainly been around one since she was a very small child.

As a horse owner and active competitor, Grace is very aware of the life lessons that are taught from being around horses on a regular basis. These lessons have been applied to not only her life as an equestrian, but to many other aspects of her very busy world.

Grace is currently studying a dual degree in Paramedicine & Nursing and completed her Equine Connection certification at the beginning of 2021. She is kept busy with the males in her life: two beautiful thoroughbreds, Rocky and Richie, who are both wonderful teachers in the EAL program; and a very loyal Blue Heeler, named Diesel.

Grace has a particular interest in the youth engagement programs and loves watching her beautiful horses pass on their valuable teachings to others.

EAL Facilitator

Jennifer Colllings

Jenn grew up riding, drawing and dreaming about horses! Fast forward decades and the adventure, freedom, friendship and the teaching that horses brought then, lives on in her today. Currently, 'Billy' the ginger Quarter Horse, with its big personality, definitely keeps her equine dance card full.

After raising a large family, 30+ years working closely with people as a stylist, Jenn achieved a 20yr old goal of certifying as an Equine Assisted Learning facilitator through Equine Connections, Canada.

Jenn is passionate to see people free to grow and evolve into becoming the best version of themselves. She is eager to support every participant in our program to gain the essential life and personal skills needed to enjoy their life to the fullest.

Jenn is very excited to be part of the Reason to Thrive operational team, committed to see what potential is unlocked by our equine friends and our EAL programs.

EAL Facilitator

Deb Lockhart

Deb has over 20-years’ experience in the Disability & Community Services Sector, working to create services and necessary support in mainstream communities to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.

Deb has worked in both the government and non- government sectors around Australia, including: Disability Services Qld; Centacare Qld; Knox City Council, Victoria; Spastic Society of Victoria; the Handicapped Persons Association, NT, and Total Recreation in Darwin, which she created from the ground up.

Deb has particular experience and interest in working with young people and assisting them to develop life options beyond school. Her career, skills and love of anything equine led to her involvement in Pony Club and Equestrian Qld committees.

Deb has three children, with two children being autistic, and also having ADHD. Deb has horses of her own, and has encouraged and supported all of her children to be involved in equestrian activities. Due to this, she has experienced first-hand how these majestic animals provide opportunities in their wonderful, non-judgemental way, for people to develop lifelong skills, and enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

Deb is a much-valued member of Reason to Thrive’s operational team, having been one of our experienced EAL facilitators since the beginning of 2022. Deb works across all of our EAL programs, but her real passion lies with supporting at-risk youth in our community.

EAL Program Assistant / Mentor

John Bell

John Bell is a valued member of the Reason to Thrive team, blending his professional background with a deep passion for youth development, and animals. His expertise from the Australian Army in operational management, and planning, significantly enhances our program's effectiveness.

John is particularly passionate about the Men of Tomorrow program, which mirrors his commitment to nurturing and guiding young men towards a brighter future. His dedication to both professional excellence, and personal passions, makes him an indispensable part of our team. John is a keen animal lover, with a particular interest in heavy horses and has recently purchased Banjo, a Shire Colt.

Our Committee


Stephen Porter AO, AM (Mil)

Reason to Thrive Chairman, Stephen Porter, brings a wealth of leadership and community service experience gained during a diverse career, including service in the Australian Army and in the Army-Reserve.

His civilian roles include: Independent Chair, High Performance Committee, Equestrian Australia (current), CEO of St John Ambulance Queensland, General Manager of Marist College Ashgrove, and mentor/advisor with the Queensland University of Technology Business School.

In recognition for his Army Reserve leadership contribution, Stephen was made firstly a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and then an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

Stephen’s career has been built around contributing to the community, and is passionate about improving the well-being of vulnerable people in our community.


Rosie Turnbull

A Certified Practicing Accountant, Rosie has worked in public sector accounting for more than 30 years, including nearly ten years as Chief Finance Officer for the Office of the Queensland Governor, and various roles with the Queensland Government. A graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, she brings extensive finance and governance experience to Reason to Thrive.

Rosie’s equestrian involvement started young as a junior pony club competitor in the Northern Territory, and connection to horses has
remained a core theme of her life.

Wishing to support others to experience this connection, Rosie has been involved in various voluntary roles including Treasurer for Interschool Queensland (a sub-committee of Equestrian Queensland) for several years, and is looking forward to contributing to financial and governance aspects of Reason to Thrive.

Committee Member

Susan Austin

More than 30 years’ experience in administration and management across government, property, health and not for profit sectors, a record of community service and a life-time involvement with horses, makes Sue a natural fit to support Reason to Thrive.

She has deep experience in stakeholder relations and operationalising strategic objectives and, in her current work role, manages membership and stakeholder engagement for a national research organisation.

Serving 8 years on Equestrian Queensland Board and with decades of instructing in the Pony Club Association of Queensland, Sue appreciates the connection and reflective dynamic between horses and humans and is committed to supporting the purpose and values of Reason to Thrive and to ensure the continued delivery of programs to promote mental, physical and social well-being.

Committee Member

Fiona Judd

Fiona is an advocate of Reason to Thrive's EAL Women's "Re-Build" program.

With over 25 years of Critical Care experience as a Registered Nurse, and having served on numerous community committees, Fiona brings a wealth of knowledge and lived-experiences to the organisation.

Fiona's journey with Reason to Thrive began in 2021, following 13 years of experiencing Domestic Violence.

She attributes the organisation's EAL "Re-Build" program and the horses she worked with, as instrumental in helping her regain her confidence and belief in herself. Through this unique, life-skills program, Fiona was able to rebuild her identity, find her voice, and re-discover her true self.

Today, Fiona is a Clinical Nurse Educator, as well as an Academic for the University of Queensland.

Inspired by her own transformation, Fiona became an Advocate for Reason to Thrive's Equine Assisted Learning "Re-Build" program and joined the committee in early 2023. Her dedication and passion for helping other women rebuild their lives make her an invaluable asset to the organisation.

Committee Member

Sue Sampson

With a human resources and organisational development background, Sue’s 30-year career has spanned both management consulting and senior leadership roles, including recently Chief Human Resources Officer for a large government department. In past community services, her contributions have focussed on improving governance, as well as supporting day-to-day operations.

However, her core work passion is supporting individuals to reach their potential and most of her current consulting work is in leader development, assisting teams to improve culture, and where needed, repair work relationships.

In her corporate work, she aims to help people thrive and supports personal well-being and self-efficacy, and she is passionate about contributing to this objective at a community level through Reason to Thrive.

As well as experience in psychosocial human development, Sue brings research know-how and an interest in trauma-informed care. One of her aims is to assist Reason to Thrive to contribute to the growing evidence base for Equine Assisted Learning as a modality for supporting growth for people experiencing difficult life challenges.

How you can help

Reason to Thrive relies solely on the generous financial support and donations from the general public, community groups, businesses and grants, to be able to provide fully-funded programs to every participant referred to our programs. 

As we do not receive any Government funding assistance, it is essential that we build strong, lasting partnerships with organisations, and individuals, that share in our desire to support as many vulnerable young people, women and families in our community, as possible.  

Our Partners

Reason to Thrive partners support fully-funded EAL life-skill programs for at-risk youth and women impacted by family and domestic violence, playing a vital role in making a positive impact on their lives.