Tess has changed the way that ANU residence John XXIII College contributes to Indigenous reconciliation.
A resident of the College from 2011 to 2013, Tess gave to the College community through her roles as Sports Representative in the College Residents’ Association in 2012, as a member of the College Senior Resident Team in 2013 and by maintaining an active and dynamic presence in the College’s charity efforts. She organised events to promote the tolerance of homosexuality and gender diversity within the College and the wider ANU community. Tess’s passion for this cause was infectious, and she was able to persuade the Head of College of the need to make a greater contribution to Indigenous reconciliation. With the support of her friend and fellow resident Isabel Doraisamy, Tess helped to deliver a program that saw ten College residents venture to Mutitjulu, in the Northern Territory, in September 2013.
Tess’s passion for Indigenous culture and her generous spirit are what linked John XXIII College and the Mutitjulu Aboriginal community together. Participants lodged at the local boarding school and spent their days between the local childcare centre and the arts centre. The huge success of this program has ensured that visits to Mutitjulu are a permanent fixture on the John XXIII calendar.
Tess doesn’t need to be in Mutitjulu to give to the Indigenous community though. She is currently in the process of organising the inaugural Maruka Arts @ ANU marketplace and exhibition, which will showcase the talents of some of Australia’s premier Central Desert artists and help and promote awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture.
Tess’s kind heart and charitable nature are also focused closer to home. She gives each and every day through her family-founded charity, The JSK Fund. Created in 2010 in memory of her late father John Skipper Kelly, Tess, alongside her brothers and mother, raise money to create leadership opportunities for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. One of the most notable events run by The JSK Fund was last year’s City2Surf run where more than 150 people, most of them ANU students, formed the ‘Running for JSK’ team, running or walking to raise funds and awareness for the cause.