Last night I had the privilege of attending the 2024 Lord Mayor’s Australia Day Awards ceremony as the guest of ARTD Associate, and my friend, Uncle Syl Johns. The Awards recognised outstanding contributions to the Brisbane community primarily through volunteering.
Syl was the very deserved recipient of an Australia Day Achievement Award having dedicated more than 30 years volunteering with young people and their families in Bracken Ridge and the Greater Brisbane Area. Syl worked to establish the Kurbingui Sporting Association where young people and their families can come together in a supportive space that promotes health and wellbeing. Syl’s long experience coaching boxing, including coaching the Aboriginal Australian Boxing team meant he was well placed to set up a boxing gym that continues to be at the heart of the work that happens at Kurbingui, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and many others, find a sense of care, community and connection.
Outside of his role at Kurbingui, Syl does incredible work with many of Brisbane’s most disadvantaged people including the inner-city homeless population and young people exiting State care. He does this not just because it has been his job, but because he connects on a personal level and makes sure he knows the people he works with. He has great determination and a willingness to think outside the box to find ways of making life just a little bit easier for those for whom things are very hard.
Congratulations Syl! You are truly an inspiration. It is an honour to get to work alongside, and learn from, such an excellent human being!