Ralph Kelly, father of one-punch victim Thomas Kelly, was paid $125,000 in wages by the foundation set up to fight alcohol related violence in his son’s name.
Killed by an unprovoked attack by Kieran Loveridge – who is serving 14 years for manslaughter – Thomas Kelly suffered life threatening head injuries, his life support being turned off two days later. Established following his death, The Thomas Kelly Foundation‘s main work is operating two “Take Kare Safe Spaces”.
A joint venture with The Salvation Army and staffed by volunteers who “support young people to have a safe night out and return safely to their families and loved ones” the TKSSs run every Friday and Saturday night in the CBD and Kings Cross.
According to the foundation’s latest financial report, as reported by The Daily Telegraph and published on blog Surely Not, Mr Kelly’s $125,754 wage makes up 51 per cent of the charity’s annual revenue, the foundation having brought in $243,737 in revenue over the 2014-2015 financial year.
The payment to Mr Kelly was made with the full support of the foundation’s board of directors.
The sole employee of the foundation, Mr Kelly also maintains his role as Managing Director of Hemisphere Hospitality Solution, a hotel sales marketing and representations firm that handle a number of luxury resorts. While he has not responded the media’s requests for comments on his wage, the foundation’s website and social media pages were reportedly taken down or locked out following the publication of the foundation’s financial statements on Friday 19th February.
Coming back online the next day with a statement detailing its work, the foundation nevertheless remained silent on Kelly’s notable salary. A spokesman for the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission told the Tele there were no regulations on how much of a charity’s revenue can be spent on “employee benefits and operational costs.”
“The ACNC expects charities to have administration costs. However, these costs will vary depending on the type of charity, its charitable purpose, and the activities it undertakes in pursuit of its charitable purpose. A charity can pay a staff member and, sometimes, a board or committee member for their work, but not an unreasonable amount.”
The revelation comes as the conversation around the lockout laws that Mr Kelly campaigned so hard for has started to turn against the legislation. Over 15,000 people marched in Sydney’s CBD on Sunday as part of a rally organised by activist group Keep Sydney Open, all while there is a Footloose themed angry dance scheduled for this evening.
Meanwhile even conservative political commentators such as Alan Jones have turned against the laws following Matt Barrie’s 8,000 word essay and Mike Baird’s poorly received comments on social media.
UPDATE 23/02/16: Ralph Kelly has hosed down claims that he pocketed more than half of the funds raised by the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, saying the reported figures don’t accurately reflect a full picture of the charity’s funding.
Gallery: Keep Sydney Open Rally, 21.02.16 / Photos: Ashley Mar