Spirit of Service Awards

The newly designed Spirit of Service Awards recognise public sector initiatives that drive positive change for the Australian community. Drawing on the learnings from our historically popular and successful Award programs – the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence and the Public Sector Innovation Awards – we have created a new contemporary offering that reflects the leadership and excellence practices in the contemporary public sector. The inaugural Awards were launched in October 2021 with the winners announced at an Award Cermony in Canberra on 12 May 2022. 

Award Categories

The four categories are:


Recognising cross-agency and/or cross-jurisdiction initiatives where organisations have worked in a collaborative manner to deliver superior results and outcomes.


Recognising initiatives where communities have played a key role in the design of superior services and supports that impact positively on the quality of community life.


Recognising initiatives that develop and apply novel products, processes, services, technologies and/or management practices to create better experiences for the beneficiaries of the breakthrough.


Recognising initiatives that build the knowledge, skills and capabilities to address complex problems over time.

Nominations can be submitted against more than one category. 

Kerry Kennedy Award

The Kerry Kennedy Award was introduced to the Prime Minister’s Awards in 2019, in honour of Kerry Kennedy who passed away earlier that year. Kerry was an assessor of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Awards before becoming actively involved in the running of the Awards as the volunteer Award Coordinator and Chair of the Awards Steering Committee for 17 years. The Kerry Kennedy Award commemorates the outstanding contributions to the Award program and public administration more generally. The Kerry Kennedy Award has been carried over as a Judges’ discretionary award as part of the Spirit of Service Awards program. More information about the Kerry Kennedy Award can be found here


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 Award also explicitly recognises the work of teams and therefore nominations that focus solely on the work of an individual will not be accepted. 


The Awards have two stages of assessment. Nominations are submitted online for the first stage and assessed by trained volunteer Assessors. At the end of the first stage, a shortlist of finalists from each category are invited to present their initiative in a short pitch presentation to the Judging Panel. The Judging Panel will then convene to decide on the winner and runner up for each category that are announced at the Award Ceremony. The finalists are provided with pitch training to assist them with preparation of their pitch presentations.

Important Dates

The 2021-22 Awards have now closed. More information on the 2022-23 dates will be announced soon.

Entry Fee

Each nomination is charged an entry fee based on the IPAA ACT membership tier of the nominating organisation. The nomination fee assists IPAA ACT to deliver a high quality awards program, including opportunities to share and embed the learnings across the public sector.

Nominations for multiple categories will be charged an entry fee for each separate nomination.

2021-22 Partners

IPAA ACT thanks the official partners of the 2021-22 Spirit of Service Awards:

  • Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
  • EY
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • Services Australia

Further Information

For further information on the Awards and the criteria, please refer to the IPAA ACT Public Sector Achievement Model document. For further queries or support on Award Force, please contact IPAA ACT by email at awards@act.ipaa.org.au or call 02 5112 1980.

We’re 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. In the video below, Aunty Jude Barlow talks about the true meaning of 'Gurumbal' and how it relates to the Spirit of Service.


IPAA ACT acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Contact IPAA

ABN: 24 656 727 375
Phone: (02) 6154 9800
Unit 4A, 16 National Circuit,
Barton ACT 2600

Postal Address

PO Box 4349
Kingston ACT 2604

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