The Kennedy Foundation

spirax silver

The NRMA Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism is organised by the Kennedy Foundation – a registered charity that administers a benevolent fund for news media professionals facing hardship.

Foundation funds are primarily raised from sponsorship of  the annual NRMA Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism – staged in early August, on or close to the anniversary of Les Kennedy’s death from cancer at the age of 52 in 2011.

Les Kennedy was a champion of “shoe leather” journalism, the antithesis of a phone jockey as he established an enviable network built on the trust that can only be established with face-to-face contact.

The Kennedy Foundation promotes strong camaraderie among news media professionals – to protect and support them in what can be a tough game. We know the intensity of competition between rival media organisations can take a heavy emotional, physical and financial toll but we believe the bond formed on the road can never be broken.

Since the inaugural Kennedy Awards in 2012 we have also raised funds and awareness for the Charles Perkins Trust for Students and Young People, the children’s cancer charity RedKite, the Aboriginal Medical Service and the ANZUP Below the Belt Cancer Trials .

In conjunction with the University of Technology and Paradigm Resources the Kennedy Foundation has also established The Les Kennedy Scholarship for Indigenous Journalism Students.

All applications to the Kennedy Foundation for assistance will be considered with the utmost compassion in the strictest of confidence.

We have been supporting colleagues in hardship since registration with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission on March 3, 2014.

The Foundation was first established from humble origins in November 2013 through the vision, drive and commitment of Les Kennedy’s close friends and colleagues, the pro bono legal services of Sydney law firm, Kennedys, and the support of Racing NSW.

The foundation aimed to become an official charity to provide financial and other support to media representatives who have fallen on hard times whether through illness, injury, family grief or unemployment.

The trustees met for the first time on December 18, 2013 at 6.30pm in the boardroom of Racing NSW. They voted that each submission for support from an individual or on someone’s behalf would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The foundation also moved to maintain its commitment to other charities such as the children’s cancer charity Redkite and the Aboriginal Medical Service, the then incumbent beneficiaries of funds raised by the Kennedy Awards for Excellence in NSW Journalism.

Apart from staging the annual NRMA Kennedy Awards and associated events, the foundation went on to organise fundraisers such as the Newsroom Battle of the Bands, raising $20,000 for former Channel Ten news director and The Daily Telegraph reporter Kevin Hitchcock, battling painful quadriplegia since a diving accident more than 20 years ago.

The foundation’s charitable origins can be traced to a pub meeting in Sydney in February, 2012 when those close to the late Les Kennedy – who had tragically died on August 10 the previous year – hooked up with his former editors, friends and family to discuss a perpetual tribute.

They realised that while there were other state and national journalism awards there was nothing in NSW to honour journalists in Australia’s most competitive news market. The Kennedy Awards were born, and have gone from strength-to-strength – attracting more than 500 entries a year from the finest journalists in Australia.

A cold call to the makers of Les’ fabled notepad led to the creation of the Spirax Trophy, now a coveted symbol of quality Australian journalism thanks to the incredible generosity of foundation sponsors Pelikan Artline, now trading as ACCO Brands.

Tara Brown of 60 Minutes with the coveted Spirax Trophy at 7th Annual NRMA Kennedy Awards in 2018 © Photo by Salty Dingo 2018

The fledgling committee, apart from organising the inaugural awards in August 2012, raised more than $80,000 for the Charlie Perkins Trust for Indigenous Students and Young People to support Indigenous students aiming to complete tertiary education.

In May 2016 The Kennedy Foundation and sponsors Paradigm Resources launched the Les Kennedy Scholarship, a three-year $22,500 program for young Indigenous students studying journalism at Sydney’s University of Technology.

For information on how to seek the Kennedy Foundation’s support – and offer it – please contact general manager Steve Warnock at: – or phone him on 0424 407717 or 02 9279 3385

Written correspondence can also be sent to:

The Kennedy Foundation Suite 303, Level 3, 65 York Street Sydney, NSW 2000.

MEDIA RELEASE: Kennedy Foundation Supports Below the Belt & ANZUP

MEDIA RELEASE: Kennedy Foundation a Charity

Certificate from Charities and Not for Profit Commission