Home » Five young Springfielders receive Australia Day recognition

Five young Springfielders receive Australia Day recognition

Daniel Bouwmeester    January 16, 2024    4 min read   

Twenty-one finalists have been named for the 2024 Ipswich Australia Day awards – including five Springfield residents – with winners announced tomorrow.


Filipino-Australian siblings Jozef and Maynah Borja-Erece both received recognition for their contributions to organising the annual Grand Autumn Festival, which took place in May last year at Robelle Domain parklands.

A finalist in the Citizen of the Year category, 27-year-old Jozef also received special recognition for his career accomplishments including passing the bar and becoming a barrister at a prodigiously young age.

A dual-finalist for both Young Citizen of the Year and the Cultural Award, 22-year-old Maynah organised last year’s hundreds of festival volunteers and managed production on her original hour-long musical “One World” – all while being hearing impaired.

Adam Varghese, also a Young Citizen of the Year finalist, is a 17-year-old St Peter’s Lutheran College Springfield graduate and last year’s college captain who recently completed a tenure as Ipswich Youth Advisory Council (IYAC) member.

Adam organised a Red Blood Drive at his school and raised $11,000 for blood cancer research through the World’s Greatest Shave for the Leukaemia Foundation. For his many achievements in 2023, in December he also received the prestigious AMPOL Best All Rounder Award at the National Level.

Louie Galman, a St Augustine’s College senior and fellow 2023 IYAC member who was also a Youth Member for Bundamba in the 2023 Queensland Youth Parliament (QYP) is also a Young Citizen of the Year finalist.

And fellow St Augustine’s College senior Ryan Zimmerman was also announced as finalist for Young Citizen of the Year for his role in youth dance competitions and for his passionate work teaching ballroom dancing to younger children with additional needs.

Jozef and Maynah Borja-Erece posed with Senator Paul Scarr, centre, at a previous incarnation of the Grand Autumn Festival. Image: Maynah Borja-Erece. / Top image: Winners of last year’s Ipswich Australia Day awards received their plaques at a special ceremony in January, 2023. Image: Ipswich City Council.
Young Citizen of the Year award finalist 17-year-old Adam Varghese received the AMPOL Best All Rounder Award at the National Level last month. Image: St Peter’s Lutheran College Springfield.

Springfield success

Jozef and Maynah were both born and raised in New Zealand to Filipino parents, Jo-Ann and Maynard – a doctor and teacher, respectively – who later moved to the Springfield area in 2011.

“We created the concept for the Grand Autumn Festival in Springfield, 2023, as an evolution from its original inception as the Philippines-Australia Autumn Festival,” Jozef said.

“The vision is an annual national destination event [with] diverse stories, backgrounds, and journeys that have brought us here.

“[We] hope to continue its growth every year, where all communities [come] together as one family, in celebration of cultural arts, music, dance, and cuisine.”

In 2015, at age 18, Jozef simultaneously became the University of Southern Queensland’s youngest-ever Bachelor graduate and the youngest practising solicitor in the southern hemisphere.

Last year, Jozef successfully entered both the Bar Association of Queensland and Bar of England & Wales.

Jozef Borja-Erece now works as a barrister at Jeddart Chambers in Brisbane. Image: Jeddart Chambers.

Diverse and dedicated

Other award categories representing the best and brightest of Ipswich residents include Senior Citizen of the Year, Community Group of the Year, and a Sport and Recreation Award.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said it was always inspiring to hear the stories of finalists across the categories and why they are deserving of recognition and celebration.

“This year’s finalists represent those who give back to our community every day – some who have been doing so for decades, and others who are just starting their journey,” Mayor Harding said.

“I hope that by honouring their tireless efforts, we can continue to celebrate Ipswich as a dedicated, caring community.”

Community, Culture, Arts and Sport Committee Chairperson Councillor Andrew Fechner said the finalists spanned the breadth of Ipswich’s diverse community.

“From rising sporting stars to senior citizens, these finalists all have fascinating and inspiring stories to share,” Cr Fechner said.

“I’m proud of our community and I’m pleased that we can celebrate our achievements in these awards.”

Winners will be announced at the 2024 Ipswich Australia Day Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, January 17.

For more information including a full list of finalists, past winners, and nominations and judging procedure, visit ipswich.qld.gov.au and search “Ipswich Australia Day Awards” or click here.

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Daniel Bouwmeester

Daniel was born in a mining town in New South Wales to Dutch and Welsh immigrants, before relocating to Logan City, where he attended Canterbury College for twelve years. He pursued his passion for music by completing a first-class honours degree at the University of Queensland (UQ), and later signed with a local record label. He has travelled the world from a young age, including a student exchange in rural France, a job working the ski lifts in Colorado, and visits to the islands of the South Pacific. After a six-year career in market research, Daniel returned to UQ to complete a Bachelor of Journalism and Arts dual degree, majoring in political science. His varied experiences at home and abroad have contributed to a passion for spreading good news while defending the truth buried inside complex societal paradigms.