The Kennedy Foundation

Media Release- New Chairman of Kennedy Foundation

The NRMA Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism is organised by the Kennedy Foundation – a registered charity supporting 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 type of trust that can only be won 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. In dramatic and often traumatic times of transition in the media the foundation is ready to help those struggling with the rapidly evolving media landscape.

Since the inaugural Kennedy Awards in 2012 the Foundation has 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 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.

In recent years the foundation has formed strategic partnerships with the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas and the Google News Initiative. Both collaborations have a sharp focus on promoting journalistic excellence in Australia’s regional areas.

The Kennedy 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 and voted that each submission for support from an individual or on someone’s behalf would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Apart from staging the annual NRMA Kennedy Awards and associated events, including the recently introduced Kennedy Lecture, the foundation has gone on to organise fundraisers such as the Newsroom Battle of the Bands.

The foundation’s 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 – connected with his former editors, friends and family to discuss a perpetual tribute.

While they realised there were other state and national journalism awards there was no event in NSW to celebrate journalism in Australia’s most competitive news market. The Kennedy Awards were born, and have gone from strength-to-strength – evolving into a national event to attract more than 600 entries a year from the finest journalists in Australia.

In promoting excellence The Kennedy Awards offers the richest prize in Australian journalism – the $25,000 Kennedy Prize for Journalist of the Year.

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 ACCO Brands.

Tara Brown of 60 Minutes with the coveted Spirax Trophy at the 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 launched the Les Kennedy Scholarship, a three-year $22,500 program for young Indigenous students studying journalism at University of Technology Sydney.

The Kennedy  Foundation invites journalists to enter our awards on their own initiative, to ensure a more egalitarian environment for competition without the need for any journalist to be disqualified or aided by newsroom politics. We know many fine journalists over the years have not endeared themselves to management for one reason or another, notwithstanding their ability and performance – and may well deserve peer recognition even if it’s not acknowledged or rewarded internally. This is very much in the spirit of honouring Les Kennedy’s memory.


Chairman Rocco Fazzari, veteran multiple award-winning cartoonist and illustrator with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Deputy Chairman Mike Duffy, seasoned newspaper and television journalist with the 7 Network, Sunday Mirror London and The Adelaide Advertiser.
Director Siobahn Fogarty, formerly of Prime News and ABC Sydney and long-serving Kennedy Awards onstage manager.
Director Julianne Horsman, formerly of Nine News and regional Australian television.
Director Rebecca Page, founding Kennedy Awards organising committee member, close family friend of Les Kennedy and media officer with Kennedy Awards major sponsor NRMA Motoring and Services.
Director Taylor Auerbach, 7 Network producer, 2015 Kennedy Young Journalist of the Year, formerly of A Current Affair and The Daily Telegraph.
Director Simon Bouda, veteran Nine Network Journalist with A Current Affair, Nine News Europe Correspondent and long-serving crime reporter with Nine, The Sun and The Daily Mirror.

Correspondence can also be sent to:

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

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Certificate from Charities and Not for Profit Commission