There’s no shortage of inspiring and talented people with connections to Ipswich. Here’s 18 we think will be doing big things in the coming year.

1. Ashleigh Barty

Few sportspeople can claim to have had as big a past 12 months as Springfield tennis sensation Ashleigh Barty. The 21-year-old made her presence felt on the professional tour, climbing from 271 in the world at the start of the 2017 season to 17 by year’s end. Along the way she beat seven-time Grand Slam champ Venus Williams at the Cincinnati Open. However it was her win over Garbine Muguruza in Birmingham – Barty’s first over a top 20 player for the year – that really set the tone for her rise through the professional tennis ranks. The recent recipient of a Key to the City of Ipswich, Barty is hoping to break into the top 10 in 2018. Her campaign begins on 31 December at the Brisbane International ahead of the Australian Open in January. Expect to see her in the news plenty in 2018.

2. Simran Goklaney

A spot at the ninth University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Bangkok beckons in 2018 for Westside Christian College graduate Simran Goklaney. The event, hosted by United Nations and Humanitarian Affairs, brings together 1000 of the world’s most promising leaders. Ms Goklaney is a motivated human rights advocate with big plans. The former World Vision Australia Youth Ambassador will enter her second year of a law and business degree at QUT in 2018. Driven to make a difference and with a passion for policy, Ms Goklaney wants to one day work in the International Court of Justice in The Hague or at the United Nations in New York.

3. Raynuha Sinnathamby

Few people will have as big an impact on how Ipswich develops in the coming years than Raynuha Sinnathamby. The inspirational daughter of Springfield visionary Maha Sinnathamby, Raynuha is managing director of Springfield Land Corporation. Springfield celebrated 25 years in 2017 with more than 37,000 people having moved into the area’s six large suburbs and the community on target to reach 130,000 by 2030. The area shows no signs of slowing down in 2018 with a major apartment development with more than 10,000 units expected to begin. Health City is continuing to grow, as is the technology-focused IDEA City. Raynuha will play an important role in helping guide this growth.

4. Andrew Antoniolli

Making good on remaining commitments detailed in his election manifesto will be Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli’s focus in 2018. Since his election in August, Cr Antoniolli has moved quickly to bring change, giving priority to 19 recommendations in an independent Governance Review adopted by council in September. The first order of business was the publishing online of all committee reports and easier access to councillors’ register of interests. In 2018, all remaining recommendations will be implemented. Cr Antoniolli’s commitment to the future of Ipswich Central is unwavering with the next phase of redevelopment to continue early in the new year. As the construction milestones are reached you can be sure the new mayor will be making headlines for all the right reasons.

5. Ali Brigginshaw

Bremer State High School product Ali Brigginshaw was the standout performer when the Jillaroos won their second Women’s Rugby League World Cup. The multi-talented athlete is also the reigning Australian Golden Gloves Novice A category 69kg champion. She will be one to watch again in 2018 and should feature prominently when the NRL launches its new women’s competition later in the year. Ahead of that, Brigginshaw will pull on the green and gold for a Commonwealth Games exhibition rugby league nines comp in February. She will return to play for Ipswich Brothers and has her sights set on a spot in Queensland’s 2018 women’s State of Origin squad.

6. Eithen Leard

Eithen Leard may be young but he has a maturity and drive beyond his years. Watch for Eithen to continue hitting hoops on the wheelchair basketball scene. He was the youngest ever player to compete at the under 23 Wheelchair Basketball National Championships and has his sights set on one day representing Australia at the Paralympics. Eithen is also among Ipswich locals selected to carry the Queen’s Baton when it visits Ipswich on 29 March in the lead up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

7. Connor Fairclough

Talented and highly motivated, Connor Fairclough is working hard to make a name for himself in the Australian film and television industry. He heads into 2018 on a high with his debut movie to air on national television on 30 December. The comedy, Head Above Water, was inspired by the real-life incident when surfing champion Mick Fanning escaped a shark attack in South Africa. It will air on 9Go! before being available on streaming service STAN. In 2018, Connor will continue working on a pilot for a network with comedian Josh Wade. He is also developing a separate show with another production company.

8. Dr Caroline Smith

Jobs growth is high on the agenda of any growing community, and none know that better than Dr Smith who is executive director of Jobs Queensland, a body formed by the state government in 2015. Bringing together industry, regions, employers and the community, the organisation is designed to be an independent voice to government, a conduit for communication and a vehicle for change. One of the key philosophies of Jobs Queensland is to ensure the right skills are in the right place at the right time – underpinning the Ipswich Manufacturing Workforce Project which supports a skills-driven economy.  

9. Jennifer Howard

A decision by One Nation to stand former senator Malcolm Roberts in the seat of Ipswich meant Jennifer Howard caught a few more headlines than perhaps would have otherwise been expected in the run up to November’s state election. Ms Howard, who was first elected in 2015, saw off the challenge and easily retained the safe Labor seat for a second term. Her efforts did not go unnoticed. Ms Howard was appointed Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Assistant Minister of State. Ms Howard has been active in the Ipswich community for three decades and there is no reason to think that will change in 2018 – she’ll be in the news again.

10. Ben Ungermann

Ben Ungermann’s star rose on the 2017 series of Masterchef Australia. The Ipswich foodie cooked his way to the series finale and finished runner-up. Expect to see Ungermann making headlines in 2018 when he opens an ice cream parlour in Ipswich with brother Danny. Ungermann Brothers is set to open at 88 Limestone Street in January with flavours such as dark chocolate and mandarin, matcha white chocolate and bacon and strawberry balsamic in the mix. Ungermann, who has a strong Dutch heritage, finished the year filming in the Netherlands before heading to the UK for some work experience with big name chefs.

11. Archie Graham

Archie Graham has big plans for the new year. The Ipswich tennis ace is the world’s highest ranked player with an intellectual disability and in 2017 became the first person to win three consecutive INAS World Tennis Championships. His first order of business in 2018 is to win back his Australian Open title which he lost in 2017. He also wants to retain the doubles title and add a mixed doubles trophy to his list of achievements. His attention will then turn to securing a spot on the Australian squad headed for Paris for the 2018 INAS World Tennis Championships. Continuing to improve his performance in mainstream tournaments is also a focus.

12. Andrea Martin

Tourism numbers are well up, a sign that Ipswich is finally being discovered as a jewel in Queensland’s travel crown. Spicers Hidden Vale, where Ms Martin is general manager, already has plans for growth in 2018. It starts with a Flavours of Summer Festival, the annual Effervenscence Festival, long table lunches, and a couple of other events which remain secret. Add that to the growing popularity of mountain bike and walking trails throughout the property’s 12,000 acres, and you’ve got a place which is waving the tourism flag for Ipswich with plenty of pride and confidence. Ms Martin says the Hidden Vale property is quintessentially Australian. We’d like to think it’s quintessentially Ipswich, and a place which will be at the forefront of innovation when it comes to attracting guests to the city.

13. Deborah Acason

Putting in a good showing in front of a home crowd at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be the number one focus for Ipswich weightlifter Deborah Acason. Acason, who will compete for Australia in the 90kg division, recently qualified for a record fifth Commonwealth Games. Qualifying was no easy feat with Acason having to overcome shoulder and neck injuries that almost ruled her out of contention and a quad tear that hampered preparations leading into the games qualifying trials. Acason has an impressive record at Commonwealth Games events, having won gold in Melbourne in 2006, three silvers in Manchester in 2002 and a bronze in Delhi in 2010.

14. Peter McMahon

Peter McMahon’s passion for Ipswich runs deep. The energetic director of Peter McMahon’s Swim Factory at Woodend and Springfield Central is renowned for his support of community organisations. Mr McMahon is heavily involved with Ipswich City Rotary Club and is chairman of Ipswich Hospice Care. In 2017 he led efforts at Orion Lagoon to set a new world record for the largest swim lesson at a single venue. The attempt set a new Australian record but fell short of the world record. Mr McMahon says he is determined to break the record in 2018. 

15. Geraldine MacKenzie

Look for Professor Geraldine MacKenzie to begin making her mark on University of Southern Queensland (USQ) campuses at Springfield and Ipswich. Prof MacKenzie took on the role of vice-chancellor in September after successful stints in senior positions at Bond and Southern Cross. Prof MacKenzie is no stranger to USQ, having been the foundation head of the university’s School of Law in 2007. A barrister-at-law, she is a member of the Queensland Bar Association, American Bar Association and the International Bar Association. Prof MacKenzie is acutely aware of the shifting expectations of students when it comes to how they want to learn and is committed to maintaining USQ’s position as an integral part of the community.

16. Graham Harvey

There will be plenty of eyes on Western Pride when the 2018 football season gets under way. Guiding the club’s senior men’s side will be head coach Graham Harvey. Harvey steered the National Premier League side to its first final series before going on to claim an incredible 2-1 grand final victory over Moreton Bay United in front of a jubilant home crowd at Briggs Road Sporting Complex. The win broke a 31-year drought, with the last Ipswich football team to win a major trophy being Coalstars in the 1986 Brisbane Premier League grand final. Harvey and his team will be hoping for more trophy success in 2018.

17. Faye Carr

Yuggera Elder Faye Carr has impacted the lives of indigenous Australians from Ipswich and beyond and continues to give back to the community she loves. This year she was honoured as the 2017 National NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year. The 2017 NAIDOC award committee said Aunty Faye was a strong and wise elder, advocate and leader in her community. They went on to say that she exemplifies the values important to the community. There is plenty ahead for Aunty Faye in 2018. Aunty Faye will be given the Key to the City of Ipswich in a civic ceremony. The granting and presentation of a Key to the City is a symbolic presentation, which represents the highest honour a city can confer on an individual or an organisation.

18. Charis Mullen

There is plenty of work ahead of newly minted State MP for Jordan Charis Mullen. Ms Mullen won the newly created seat in November’s election, with 60% of the two-party preferred vote. There is plenty on Ms Mullen’s to-do list. In the lead up to the election she promised to look into a fix for the traffic woes that plague where the Centenary Highway and Logan Motorway meet. As well, she secured a commitment for another 650 car parking spaces at Springfield Central Station. Doing her bit to get government funding for the Brisbane Lions sporting stadium and training centre at Springfield Central across the line will no doubt also be a focus. Expect to see Charis cement her position in the community in 2018.

Start the new year right