Ipswich Citizen of the Year: Amanda Draheim

After speaking with Amanda Draheim, who has just been honoured as Citizen of the Year in the Ipswich Australia Day Awards, it comes as no surprise that a few years ago Riverview Neighbourhood Watch was voted in a community engagement survey to be the most trusted source of information in the suburb.

Often it is the first port of call for locals to find out what to do about anything from lost dog and cats – or the odd rooster – to getting action on road upgrades and safety measures. Amanda has been the driving force, with help from her band of 40 casual volunteers, in creating what could easily be considered a blueprint for the most neighbourly of neighbourhoods. However, Amanda is the last to take credit.

“What I am doing is no more important than what many others are doing in their own neighbourhoods,” she said after receiving her award.

“I think that when we purchase a home or choose to live in a home, whether it’s a rental or housing we have been allocated, whatever it is, we take care of our home and we look after the space we have been given, but it’s also our responsibility to go out and build our community as well and it starts from each individual that has that connection through the community.

“I’m a true believer that you make the neighbourhood that you live in, that you are creating it every day,” she said.

And it is that attitude that has built the Riverview Neighbourhood Watch from a group that was on the brink of collapse just over 10 years ago to the award winning team it is today.

Amanda was born in Riverview and returned about 15years ago with her partner when they had the opportunity to buy their first home. By coincidence they found just what they wanted on the same street that her grandmother had once lived. It wasn’t long before Amanda started attending a few meetings at the Neighbourhood Watch to find out what was happening.

She began as a ‘blockie’ delivering the newsletter and flyers to letterboxes, helped the editor with the newsletter and to transition from handwritten copies to digital format, then became secretary and three years ago became area co-ordinator.

There have been many achievements along the way that have not only provided a safer neighbourhood for Riverview residents (such as lobbying to retain a pedestrian footbridge over the Ipswich Highway) and fostered connections in the community (with weekly cuppa and chat meetups at the community centre, or cuppa with your neighbour cards sent through letterboxes – with tea bags attached – and monthly Wednesday Wanderers outings spontaneously arranged and taking groups of up to 10 out and about, often out of town on excursions to Brisbane or Toowoomba, or to Wynnum for fish and chips) they have also helped put Riverview on the map in an entirely unexpected way.

Faced with a local issue of hooning and inspired by her own interest in visiting car shows with her partner Amanda suggested the community create their own local car show to demonstrate there was a different way to show pride and passion for cars, of any type, and Muscle in Maculata was born. At the first event there were about 28 cars. Now, seven years later, there are more than 100 and it has become a family event that includes show rides, market stalls and food vans that more than 4000 people attend.

It has brought old cars out of sheds that have been restored, encouraged neighbours to foster friendships with like-minded car buffs and given people a way to connect with services, including the local police beat, that they may not otherwise have had contact with. It’s now an event that people book well ahead to take part.

For Amanda the reward is the many happy faces she sees in the photos she takes everywhere and at everything she goes to – she has 29,000 on her phone – but she also feels safe in her neighbourhood. “I have made so many connections now that I know that if something were to happen to me or if I needed something or if I needed to get the word out quickly about something it’s there. It’s a community we are creating.”

As the 2023 Youth Member for Bundamba in the Queensland Youth Parliament (QYP) Louie successfully passed a ‘Nurturing our Nutrition’ Youth Bill. He represented Australia at the 2022 Children’s General Assembly and served on the 2023 Ipswich Youth Advisory Council.

Louie is a Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) Student Voice (SV) Peer Mentor, co-designing the annual Student Voice Festival of Ideas and making substantial contributions to mental health awareness initiatives.

Louie was appointed to be the Convener, Program Coordinator, MC and Speaker for the 2023 Filipino Australian Foundation Queensland (FAFQ) Inc. Youth Leadership Training Program, which empowers 20 youth to become community leaders.

Director of the StoryArts Festival Ipswich since its inception in 1995, Jenny has led the development of children’s literature in Ipswich through the festival’s national attraction while supporting local authors and illustrators. Jenny has won many awards for her services to children’s literature in Australia and she is also the coordinator of the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network which produces a book of resources for schools to celebrate Children’s Book Week which helps support a number of projects delivered in partnership with Ipswich Libraries.

Dave Reid’s passion for photography has seen him attend and promote many Ipswich events. Working voluntarily for Willowbank Raceway, he has been instrumental in driving attendance at drag racing events in Ipswich through his networking and photography, and enticing racers from not only Australia but worldwide. Dave volunteers across a variety of charity events in Ipswich and works tirelessly to promote men’s mental health and support the homeless in Ipswich.

COMMUNITY GROUP OF THE YEAR – Riverview Neighbourhood Watch
Launched in 1988, Riverview Neighbourhood Watch represents residents to help improve the quality of life for people of all ages, religions and cultural backgrounds by encouraging interaction and connections within the community. They are actively involved in council projects, host and participate in many local events and deliver important education and resources to support their community such as bike safety days helping kids learn about road signs and more.

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