Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly is a motivational speaker based in Sydney  


Kathy received that "phone call" every parent dreads at 10:25pm on a Saturday night. 

The Kelly's are the parents of  18-year-old Thomas, whose life was cut short after an  unprovoked and fatal attack in Kings Cross in July 2012.  Dazed and raw from having to turn off their son's life support, Kathy and Ralph Kelly where the epitome of courage.


Kathy tells an incredibly powerful story of how she turned grief, into anger into determination.  In just three years Kathy has focussed her time on positive community contribution through three key platforms:

  1. Advocacy
  2. Prevention
  3. Education

Over the next two years, The Kelly’s started a movement for change – one that would see:

•    amendments to the NSW judicial system, 
•    introduction of legislation to liquor licencing - NSW (2014), 
•    advocacy for change in regulation of advertising and promotion of alcohol,
•    advocacy for improved victim compensation packages in relation to homicide of a family member,
•    development of a platform called “Take Kare” named after Thomas’ initials for use in communities, sports, work places and schools – for prevention programs,
•    a preventative street initiative operating in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross that has seen over 25,000 young people get home safely since December 2014, 
•    admissions to Sydney’s largest emergency hospital drop significantly (3 cases of severe brain injury since February 2014), as well as an overall decrease in violence across NSW over the last two years,
•    development of a partnership with University of NSW to measure the effectiveness of the work of the Foundation and provide world’s best practice for future initiatives.
•    Advocacy for a victims 'Financial Hardship' program, introduced by the NSW State Government May 2016.

Kathy regularly presents to Australian companies, charity events, community groups as well as schools, with audiences  from 20 to over 800.   Her presentation will totally embrace and immerse you as she talks of her journey of the incredible grief of losing a child to homicide, then taking this to a level of action to create change.   Learn about the vision of the Foundation and what has been achieved so far.

How one punch changed the face of violence

The aim of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation (TKYF) is to foster behavioural change in young people in order to create a responsible drinking culture and ultimately a safer and healthier community.


Forming a formidable Foundation, Kathy and Ralph met with three consecutive NSW Attorney General's - Greg Smith, Brad Hazzard and Gabrielle Upton, to advocate for amendments to the Sentencing Laws.  As a result, three prominent laws were either amended or introduced:

- Amendment to ‘Family Victim Impact Statements’, whereby family statements are now admissible in sentencing;

- Introduction of The “One Punch” law, that if you throw a punch resulting in homicide, now carries a minimum term of eight years, maximum twenty-five years.

- Amendment for non-domestic assaults, intoxication is no longer a ‘mitigating factor’ (it can no longer be labeled an 'excuse' that in the event the perpetrator is inebriated they didn’t mean to assault an innocent bystander).

- Introduction of a victims "Financial Hardship Program", for cases of domestic and non-domestic violence, launched by the NSW Government in May 2016.

"Kathy speaks from the heart with her powerful message.  She shows strength and determination throughout her articulate presentation but the raw emotion is controlled and lingering just below the surface.  Her story captures the hearts of those who are fortunate to hear her speak.  Kathy's fight for justice and her connection with the Australian public to create a movement for change is something we should all embrace for a safer and more vibrant Australia."

Professor Gordian Fulde, Director Emergency Medicine, St. Vincent's Hospital Sydney


Kathy shares her story to give us an insight into why resilience in our own lives and in the lives of those around us and the ability to overcome adversity, is vitally important to making our rapidly changing world a better place to live.

"I have seen Kathy present both at a Board level and in large public forums and she is an amazing presenter.  She has the right mix of professionalism and emotion, which comes from being a deeply caring  person of substance.  Many of us are challenged in life, but few put to the tests Kathy has endured in the last few years.  She has emerged as an incredible person and loving parent, with a message all should hear.  She has gained respect from all levels of the Australian community, and her push for change, to honour the memory of her son, is articulated beautifully.  Kathy Kelly is an asset to Australia and the Sons and Daughters of our community.  I cannot recommend her highly enough".

Guy Reynolds AM, Executive Director, Macquarie Bank



It only takes one moment for an entire life to change.  In a split second, the world we know can fall into a thousand pieces, and we are left in devastation wondering how we will ever pick up the pieces and find meaning In our lives
once again.

In this presentation, Kathy Kelly shares a raw yet inspiring account of what it means to deal with shock, heal from grief and create a meaningful life from a meaningless and devastating situation.  Many of us have dealt with a crisis, yet it is what we choose to do with that situation that defines our ability to heal, embrace hope and become a brave warrior willing to fight for justice.

Audiences will walk away from this presentation, with deep insights into the nature of personal crisis management and grief.  They will develop tools to activate resilience that is authentic and honors the depth of grief, but also
enables hope and healing.  

Dealing with adversity is never easy.  However, adversity also underpins one of mankind's greatest needs, and that is to find growth.  This is the beauty in the brave.

"One emerges from Kathy's presentation with a realisation that we can all contribute to improving our culture and making a real difference.  It also gives you a new appreciation for resilience, for family and the power of determination.”  

Kristy Edser, Minter Ellison


We can make one of two choices when we are faced with a crisis.  We can choose to do nothing, or we can step into empowerment and harness that event to create a movement and fight back.  

The Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation is that movement, and over the last three years has initiated a cultural transition from a alcohol driven society, to one that 'Take's Kare' of our people.

Key Outcomes

  • How to start a community movement for change
  • Working with Government, Community and Corporate to share the same belief and outcomes
  • Gain insights into harnessing grief as a gift to the world
  • Develop the skills for a resilient mindset
  • Create opportunity from crisis
  • Understand the healing power of purpose
  • Leadership insights
  • The art of harnessing collaborative intelligence
  • Insights into communication and influence
  • The power of purpose
  • Kathy has appeared on 60 Minutes (x5), ABC 7.30 Report, Sunrise, and The Today Show along with numerous radio and print media interviews.