DNA Magazine - - STRAIGHT MATE -

DNA: You’ve been a news jour­nal­ist for over

20 years. What has been your most sig­nif­i­cant ca­reer high­light to date?

Paul Kennedy: Def­i­nitely writ­ing the book

Hell On The Way To Heaven, with Chrissie Fos­ter back in 2010. There’s no doubt that’s the most im­por­tant piece of jour­nal­ism that I’ve un­der­taken and I don’t ex­pect I’ll do any­thing more im­por­tant. The book was an ef­fort to help Chrissie and An­thony Fos­ter tell their story about child abuse in the Catholic Church. It put a spot­light on the way the Catholic Church cov­ered up crimes and sub­jected peo­ple to abuse. It’s about the in­jus­tices that the sur­vivors went through over many years. An­thony and Chris­tine’s story was one of the rea­sons the Royal Com­mis­sion an­nounced its in­ves­ti­ga­tion and I’m very proud of be­ing able to help.

What sparked your in­ter­est in that sub­ject?

It goes back to 1996 when I was a cadet journo work­ing for a news­pa­per in Oak­leigh, Vic­to­ria. I cov­ered a front-page story about a lo­cal pae­dophile priest who had been jailed, and the par­ents were strug­gling to find out who the vic­tims were, and what the church was do­ing to help. I met Chrissie Fos­ter then and about

12 years later I cov­ered her daugh­ter Emma’s fu­neral for Chan­nel Nine news. I stayed in con­tact with them, and I stayed with the story be­cause I needed to, and the Fos­ters needed me to. I’ve be­come an ad­vo­cate for sur­vivors and my aim is to help get jus­tice for those peo­ple.

You di­rected a film called Drug Game. Can you ex­plain what that was about?

I was a play­ing coach of a foot­ball team in Vic­to­ria and we had a lot of is­sues within our club, like other clubs, with drugs. So, we worked through that as a com­mu­nity and, at the end, the Mel­bourne In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val was hav­ing a com­pe­ti­tion for foot­ball-based short films. One of my mates was a cam­era­man and we had a lot of footage from our ef­forts, so I made a short film and it played to a packed cin­ema in Mel­bourne. When it comes to foot­ball, we still haven’t seen an AFL player come out. What do you think is hold­ing them back?

I’ve thought about this, and as some­one that’s not only cov­ered the game as a jour­nal­ist but also played and coached and been in­volved at

The avalanche of me­dia at­ten­tion is prob­a­bly what’s hold­ing them back. But to not have an openly gay AFL player in 2017 seems so… out­dated.

dif­fer­ent lev­els for decades, it’s as­tound­ing to me that no one has come out. I can’t imag­ine a player would come up against too many chal­lenges within a foot­ball club en­vi­ron­ment. I might me naïve, be­cause I’m not in that po­si­tion, but I think team mates and coaches these days would be so much more un­der­stand­ing. I think fall­ing un­der the spot­light and the avalanche of me­dia at­ten­tion that a player would get is prob­a­bly what’s hold­ing them back. But to not have an openly gay AFL player in 2017 seems so… out­dated. How­ever, I should say that there are many openly gay foot­ballers in the AFLW, the women’s league, and I don’t think that’s been an is­sue at all.

The ABC News Break­fast team seems to en­joy each other’s com­pany. Are you one big happy fam­ily?

Yes, we’ve got an un­usual chem­istry and mu­tual re­spect. We come to­gether in the early morn­ing and there’s great em­pa­thy there with ev­ery­one get­ting up at the crack of dawn. With the pro­duc­tion team, di­rec­tors and make-up artists, we’re a pretty good team and, it’s a bit of a cliché, but we are like a fam­ily.

Is weather man Nate Byrne as cheeky off the set as his smile seems to sug­gest?

Nate Byrne is the same cheeky pre­sen­ter of­f­cam­era as he is on. He’s taken News Break­fast by storm with his en­thu­si­asm and with that added el­e­ment of sci­ence that he brings. He’s been a great ad­di­tion and is much val­ued. He’s def­i­nitely very cheeky!

Are you aware that peo­ple think of you as a sil­ver fox?

Not re­ally. I don’t read any com­ments on­line and I guess I see my­self as some­one who’s over the hill these days. My dad was for­ever a sil­ver fox so I knew I was go­ing to go grey early!

Who is your mu­sic diva?

Whit­ney Hous­ton. The Body­guard was one of my favourite movies as a young­ster, and it has the song I’m Ev­ery Woman. My wife al­ways raises her eye­brows when I start singing that!

What song gets you onto the dance floor? Foot­loose would be one but that’s prob­a­bly stan­dard for ev­ery­one. But one song I defy any­one to not dance to or jump up and down to is Come On Eileen by Dexys Mid­night Run­ners. I’ve seen how it gets ev­ery­one up at many dif­fer­ent par­ties. Are you a good dancer?

I’m a hor­ri­ble dancer but if I can jump up and down to it, that’ll do me!

You re­cently contributed to the book Let­ters Of

Love. Can you tell us about that?

That was from the Alan­nah And Made­line Foun­da­tion, and I wanted to write a let­ter of love for my wife. I fig­ured, in a stylis­tic way, it would be bet­ter if I wrote it to my three sons and one day they could read what their mum means to their dad. That’s why I did it and, like other Aussie blokes, I don’t of­ten say what I should to my wife. We’ve been to­gether for 19 years and I should have ex­pressed my­self be­fore now. It was a nice way to do it and an hon­our to be in that book, which has a lot of ex­pres­sions of love.

Is it true that you used to play foot­ball with Karl Ste­fanovic?

Yeah, we played a cou­ple of for­get­table games of touch foot­ball up in Queens­land. Karl was al­ways a shoot­ing star. When I went to Chan­nel Ten he was re­cruited to Chan­nel Nine and he’s al­ways some­one I’ve ad­mired. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple view him in dif­fer­ent ways but I see him as one of the coun­try’s best news­men. When I left Chan­nel Ten they made me a farewell video and from mem­ory Karl was rub­bing his nip­ples. That was Karl’s farewell!

Thank you for your sup­port of gay rights.

Well, I think it’s im­por­tant that we have fair­ness and equal­ity in Aus­tralia. That’s why I’m still a jour­nal­ist. We need to strive for that. I be­lieve that all peo­ple’s views should be re­spected but I also think to deny LGBTI peo­ple their rights is wrong. Dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­tol­er­ance should have no place in a coun­try likes ours.

Of all your in­ter­views, who has made the most last­ing im­pres­sion on you?

As a sports jour­nal­ist, I’d say Cathy Free­man. As I get older I don’t have that many sport­ing heroes left, but Cathy Free­man is there. She’s a fan­tas­tic per­son and a won­der­ful role model. It floors me that she was able to per­form at her best un­der all that pres­sure at the Syd­ney Olympics. I’m in awe of her. Her com­po­sure un­der pres­sure is the great­est thing I’ve seen in Aus­tralian sport. I had the chance to in­ter­view her on Palm Is­land where she set up the Cathy Free­man Foun­da­tion and to see her in that en­vi­ron­ment help­ing kids was in­spi­ra­tional.

This is our entertainment is­sue. What TV shows are you into?

I love come­dies like The Of­fice and Curb Your En­thu­si­asm but I also love the old school shows like Frasier, Cheers and I’m pretty happy that Will And Grace is back. Re­cently I’ve been watch­ing the new ABC com­edy Grow­ing Up Grace­fully.

I also watch old episodes of Ray Dono­van and Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion but I have missed the Game Of Thrones boat!

Are you ever tempted to sit be­hind the news desk wear­ing just your briefs?

We have the stu­dio couch and the most flam­boy­ant thing I can do there is wear some brightly coloured socks. But if we only had the desk I’d wear the least amount of cloth­ing ac­cept­able in the news­room. In the sum­mer I’d wear board­shorts but prob­a­bly not speedos!

So, for you, is it jocks, fit­ted box­ers or free­balling?

Jocks for me. I used to be more par­tic­u­lar but over the last few years as I fall into mid­dle age I’m happy with the Bonds six pack and I wear them un­til they get holes in them.

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