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Our Story

How It All Began
The Beginning
1994 Tursa Employment & Training was founded in Lismore, NSW by Ron Rathborne as a not-for-profit organisation for the express purpose of addressing the needs of unemployed workers to achieve sustainable employment and alleviating any disadvantage suffered by unemployed persons in that pursuit. The founder was himself a mature-aged, long-term unemployed person born and raised in the region with a 15-year career background as a National Trade Union Secretary based in Sydney before returning to the region. The first TURSA Committee of Management was composed of local persons committed to aiding those unemployed especially through the provision and delivery of formally accredited training.
The Beginning
In 1995 the first contract was granted to TURSA under the New Work Opportunities Programme, commencing in Lismore, then a month later in Ballina and within months extended throughout the Northern Rivers. Mobile deployed field staff operated across the Northern Rivers footprint supported by the Head Office at Lismore. Rapid expansion to offices at Ballina followed by Grafton and Tweed Heads ensured we were able to provide increased services across the entire region. In August 1995, Debbie Fry joined the organisation with a 12 year background in working within the employment sector across regional Australia including Northern Rivers of NSW with a commitment to driving better linkages for disadvantaged Australians. This ongoing passion continues to support an independent Board of Directors and an experienced Chief Officers Group.
1996 - 1997
From 1996 and into 1997 New Apprenticeship Centres, Youth Programmes and Work for the Dole were included into the services delivered by TURSA. New sites opened at Casino, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah. The same year saw the approval of TURSA as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO: 90325) and the subsequent awarding of key NSW training contracts.
1998 - 2000
In 1998 and for the next two years, TURSA was contracted to deliver the Flex 1 programme, sourcing job vacancies and engaging with other employment service providers to recruit labour across all industry sectors in the Northern Rivers - more than 7,000 places over the contract period - a challenging but successful programme.

Further contracts were awarded to the RTO including the training and supporting of Northern Rivers Business to migrate and integrate MYOB and QuickBooks into their operations. Adult participants obtained training to achieve their International Computer Driving License (ICDL) as one of the first steps by the government to support the new digital age and use of technology emerging in the workplace.
2003 saw continued expansion into the Gold Coast with new offices initially at Southport and shortly afterwards Nerang, Coolangatta, and Kingscliff. By 2007, additional sites at Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Woolgoolga and Yamba expanded theTURSA footprint.
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In 2009, the Australian Government Job Network programme was replaced by Job Services Australia which continued through to 2015. TURSA's footprint continued to grow with additional locations opened at Oxenford, Helensvale, Palm Beach, Robina, Mermaid Beach and Nambucca Heads.
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From 2015, jobactive became the new programme for Employment Services from the Australian Government. Contracts awarded to TURSA under the new jobactive programme saw a significant increase in business through the Brisbane corridor to the Sunshine Coast and an expansion in the Mid North Coast of NSW, resulting in the opening of an additional 30 sites to support the increase in business.
In 2018, TURSA established an additional site at North Lakes to meet the needs of this emerging growth corridor in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. Later that year TURSA successfully secured a competitive license under the revised Disability Employment Services-Employment Support Services (DES-ESS) across 16 contracted Employment Service Areas which saw the further expansion of services in their 56 current sites, with additional locations added at Toowoomba and Gatton in Queensland.
In 2022, TURSA transitioned from jobactive to the Workforce Australia programme across the New South Wales footprint in the North Coast and Mid North Coast, NSW. The Transition to Work Program also commenced at Beenleigh, Capalaba and Woodridge in Queensland on the 4th of July 2022. Disability Employment Services continued across all 58 sites. All employment services are enhanced by the integration of quality accredited and other non-vocational training from the TURSA RTO. In addition, TURSA continued on its digital transformation journey to remain an industry leading, modern organisation, and began a complete brand refresh in conjunction with an updated website.
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Into the Future

The future is looking bright built on a solid foundation of experience. For over 28 years, TURSA has worked in the community, helping people achieve meaningful employment, assisting local communities with sponsorships and supporting businesses with wage subsidies and personalised services.

We committed to achieving more in 2022 having delivered new ways to enhance our services, including:

  • Digital transformation, improving customer journeys and business efficiency
  • Online jobs board offering  job opportunity transparency for participants and employers
  • Personalised service focusing on our employer’s and participants’ needs, goals, and aspirations

TURSA’s range of support services include, Workforce Australia, Transition to Work (TtW), Disability Employment Services – Employment Support Services (DES-ESS), and quality training through our Registered Training Organisation. 

Our experienced team is dedicated to assisting participants and businesses succeed and thrive with face-to-face personal attention.

  • We are excited about the possibilities and opportunities as we look towards the future
  • We remain committed to you, our local employers and community
  • We look forward to supporting you in achieving your future employment goals

Thank you for choosing TURSA.

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