Kathy Kelly is a motivational speaker based in Sydney
"Resilience, Driving Social Change, Making a Difference
& Suicide – the unspoken."
Kathy received that "phone call" every parent dreads at 10:25pm on a Saturday night.
Kathy is mum to Thomas and Stuart Kelly. Tragedy struck the Kelly household when in July 2012 on his first night out, Thomas was killed after an unprovoked and fatal attack at Sydney's Kings Cross. Four years later their younger son, Stuart, took his own life. Both boys were 18 years old. Neither should have died. Why do bad things happen to good people?
Dazed and raw from having to turn off Thomas' life support, Kathy and Ralph Kelly where the epitome of courage in their quest for change to make the community safer for all of us. They gathered community support to make significant amendments to the judicial system, to liquor licensing laws, the implementation of the Take Kare Safe Space (a preventative program aimed at getting young people home safely from a night out), a victims financial hardship program as well as community education.
On losing their second son, Stuart (July 2016), the family are now focussed on developing leading programs to reduce teenage suicide.
"Kathy Kelly took on the important role of guest speaker at our 2017 Lifeline Gala Ball. Kathy’s story is known to many, but little can prepare anyone for the powerful impact that Kathy’s words will have on the room. Kathy is courageous, brave, inspirational, and articulate, and it was moving to see her receive a standing ovation from all 640 guests in the room. While her story is heartbreaking, Kathy’s courage in speaking and raising awareness about the horrific suicide statistics, is a conversation that we all need to be having. Kathy connects with the audience and leaves the room believing that together we can make a difference".
Wendy Carver, CEO, Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury
As a parent, a mother - how do you wake up every morning after losing both your sons yet still want to make a difference? Kathy's voice is a powerful catalyst for change.
Kathy tells an incredibly powerful story of how she turned grief, into anger into determination. In just four years Kathy has focussed her time on positive community contribution through three key platforms:
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
SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2016
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
BEAUTY IN THE BRAVE
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
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.
- 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.