Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation

The Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation

The Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation provides comfort, hope, protection and safety to children and displaced women from overseas and locally who need it most.

The Foundation brings to Australia children from overseas with medical conditions that local doctors are unable to treat. It also works with Australian children and displaced women in need who are referred to Moira for care.

The most needy children and families are housed in a home in inner Melbourne which the Foundation manages and they are provided with medical care and support.

The Foundation is staffed entirely by volunteers and its work is funded almost entirely by charitable donations.

Moira Kelly AO

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Ghandi

At the age of 7, Moira was inspired by a video of Mother Theresa and she announced to her mother that one day, she too would work with the wonderful nun from Calcutta. That was when she first sensed her calling and an “ordinary girl from Melbourne” began the journey towards becoming an extraordinary humanitarian. When she was 21 years old Moira joined Mother Theresa in Calcutta and this was the start of a 14-year humanitarian venture abroad. She worked in soup kitchens in Johannesburg, with crack addicted babies in The Bronx, in Romanian orphanages, refugee camps in Bosnia and with sick children and adults in Albania.

In 1993, during the Balkan Crisis, Moira was in Bosnia where she met a horrifically injured boy and his desperate mother. This was the beginning of her self-funded program of arranging medical evacuations for children to Australia so they could have life saving operations. Over the next decade, she helped bring 120 children to Australia for treatment. Her biggest resource was her amazing tenacity and ability to solicit support from friends, family, surgeons, hospitals and volunteers. In 1999 Moira established the Children First Foundation.

Two years later a local Rotary Club, friends and family joined forces to build a house on a donated property at Kilmore in country Victoria and this became a temporary home for hundreds of children who were treated for a variety of critical conditions, including open heart surgery, bowel reconstruction, plastic surgery, amputations and new prosthetic limbs. In all cases the lives of these children and their families were transformed.

Four of the children who came into Moira’s care have won hearts across Australia and overseas. Ahmed and Emmanuel, both from Iraq overcame severe disability and multiple surgeries to become accomplished young Australian men. Ahmed, is now a world record holding Paralympian swimmer and Emmanuel is establishing a successful international singing/song writing career.

Trishna and Krishna, born co-joined at the head in Bangladesh in 2006 are known the world over for not only surviving, but thriving after the ground breaking 38-hour surgery that saved their lives and gave them a bright and independent future. Following the twins’ surgery, Moira stepped back from many of her previous engagements for two years to provide the intensive care that they needed. It was a deeply transformative time that redefined for her what hope really means and as the result, she created the Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation. Moira says of that experience, “Caring for Krishna and Trishna changed me. Now I just want to take on causes that are in the ‘too hard’ basket. Where there is a little bit of hope, there is a tomorrow. This is the next phase of my giving.”


In recognition of her humanitarian work and achievements, Moira has received many awards. They include the following:

• 1986, Victorian Young Achiever of the Year

• 1988, Bicentenary Young Woman of the Year

• 1989, Paul Harris Fellow

• 1989, Queen’ Trust Achiever Award and the Victorian Young Achiever Award for Community Service.

• 1992, Inaugural Sir Edward Dunlop Award1992

• 1994, The inaugural Sir Edward Dunlop Award for humanitarian service

• 1995, A meeting with The Queen at Buckingham Palace to honour her efforts in Bosnia.

• 1999, Moira received a standing ovation after her keynote address to the World Conference of Rotary International, attended by 19,000 delegates.

• 2000, Prime Minister award

• 2000, 10 outstanding young people of the World for Community Service Barcelona Spain

• 2001, Order of Australia

• 2001, The White Flame Award given by Save the Children to recognise outstanding service to disadvantaged children.

• 2001, Prime Minister’s Award for outstanding community service.

• 2001, Moira was one of 10 people recognised internationally for their contribution to the world.

• 2001, Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in recognition of her “outstanding service to the Australian community through the provision of social support and service for disadvantaged people, and to the international community through the provision of humanitarian relief and assistance and the organisation of medical treatment for those affect by war or insurrection”.

• 2003, Voted Victorian of the Year.

• 2004, Nominated for Australian of the Year

• 2004, Anzac award

• 2009, Moira was one of four Australians to receive the ANZAC of the Year award. This award recognises ‘the efforts and achievements of up to seven Australians who have given service to their fellow Australians and to the community in a positive, selfless and compassionate manner’

• 2012, Victorian of the Year

• 2013, Australian Torch Bearer for the London Olympics

• 2013, Trustee for the Victorian Day Council

• 2014, Victorian Honour Roll of Women

• 2014, International Inner Wheel Award

• Multiple nominations for Australian of the Year