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Established in 2021, IPAA ACT’s Spirit of Service Awards recognise and celebrate public sector initiatives that drive positive change for the Australian community.

Through these awards, we highlight these outstanding efforts, share the learnings from major initiatives with the wider public sector, and help raise the profile of nominating agencies.

Award categories


Recognising cross-agency and/or cross-jurisdiction initiatives where organisations have collaborated to deliver superior outcomes.

This Award acknowledges that the complexity of contemporary challenges within Australia will be addressed in a more comprehensive way when solutions are not limited by structures and hierarchies. Sustained outcomes are achieved through meaningful and ongoing collaboration within and across organisations and jurisdictions.

2023 Collaboration Winner

2022 Federal Election Secure Telephone Voting
Service, Australian Electoral Commission

Community Engagement

Recognising initiatives where communities have been deliberately engaged in novel ways and/or have played a key role in designing and delivering superior services, regulations and policies that positively impact the quality of community life.

This Award acknowledges that competing stakeholder views and needs must be considered when designing or changing a policy, program, or project. The extent to which the needs and expectations of different stakeholders will be satisfied may vary, but it is important that they are clearly defined in order to ensure excellent and innovative outcomes.

2023 Community Engagement Winner

Community Engagement at Fitzroy Crossing
Service Centre, Services Australia


Recognising initiatives that develop and/or apply novel and ingenious analyses, products, processes, services, technologies and/or management practices to create better outcomes for beneficiaries. Breakthroughs also include continuous improvement and repurposing of existing practices.

This Award acknowledges the importance of high-quality thinking when defining a challenge and designing and implementing a response. It is also about the ability to apply an open and constructive mindset and a readiness to explore new ideas and accept new ways of working within the framework that applies to public sector activities.

2023 Breakthrough Winner

European Wasp Control, ACT Government


Recognising initiatives that deliberately engage with risk and potential failure to build public administration practice to address complex problems.

This Award is about the bold journey of taking on difficult challenges where the path is not clear and failure is part of the improvement process that leads to further learning and better outcomes. This Award acknowledges that underway or complete learning journeys require a willingness to falter and learn from calculated trials, mistakes, and changes in operating conditions in order to future-proof complex issues.

2023 Learning Winner

Compassionate Foundations, Suicide Prevention, Australian Public Service Commission & Department of Defence Australia

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Kerry Kennedy Award

The Kerry Kennedy Award celebrates small organisations or agencies who, despite fewer resources, achieve excellence by thinking outside of the box and collaborating.

The award is in honour of Kerry Kennedy, who was an assessor of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Awards and actively involved in the awards for 17 years. After Kerry passed away in 2019, the Kerry Kennedy Award was introduced to the Prime Minister’s Awards, and was later carried over as a judges discretionary award as part of the Spirit of Service Awards program. Click here to find out more about eligibility.

2023 winner

Indigenous Development and Employment Program, National Indigenous Australians Agency

Important information

The Spirit of Service Awards recognise the work of teams, so nominations that focus solely on the work of an individual will not be accepted.

The awards are open to all IPAA ACT members from commonwealth and ACT public sector agencies. Cross-jurisdictional initiatives are encouraged, provided the lead organisation is an IPAA ACT member and is from the commonwealth or ACT public service.

The Spirit of Service Awards are assessed over two stages. Nominations submitted online are first assessed by trained volunteers, and a shortlist of finalists from each category are then invited to present their initiative in a short pitch presentation to the judging panel. Finalists are provided with pitch training to assist them with preparation of their presentations.

The judging panel then convenes to decide on the winner and runner up for each category, and these are announced at the award ceremony.

Nominations are charged an entry fee based on the IPAA ACT membership tier of the nominating organisation. The nomination fee assists us in delivering a high-quality awards program, sharing the learnings across the public sector, and recognising the achievements of agencies, including a formal awards ceremony gala dinner. If you are a smaller agency with budgetary restrictions, please contact us to discuss your nomination options.

Download the nomination fee overview here

The IPAA ACT Spirit of Service Awards were launched in October 2021 and are supported by a number of leaders across the Australian and ACT Public Services.

Find out more

Important dates

Nominations open28 February
Nominations close5pm, 2 June
Finalists announced 30 July
Finalist pitch training27 July
Finalist pitch event25 September
Award ceremony23 October

Q&A session

Interested to nominate? Watch this Q&A webinar to gain clarification on the nomination guidelines, award categories, and judging criteria.

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Winners & finalists

Congratulations to the winners and runners-up of the Spirit of Service Awards for 2023!

The winners were announced at the award ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra on 8 November 2023. The awards were presented by Katherine Jones PSM, Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department and president of IPAA ACT.

2022 – 23 Winners

2022 – 23 Finalists

2021 – 22 Winners

2021 – 22 Finalists

Inaugural award ceremony

2023 Spirit of Service Awards

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We are honoured to have been given permission by the Winanggaay Ngunnawal Language Group to align the word ‘Gurumbal’ with our Spirit of Service Awards. ‘Gurumbal’ is a Ngunnawal word meaning ‘valiant’. It encapsulates the courage and determination recognised by the Spirit of Service Awards – outstanding public sector initiatives that have a lasting, positive impact on the Australian community. Watch to see Aunty Jude Barlow talk about the true meaning of ‘Gurumbal’ and how it relates to the Spirit of Service.

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