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Dr Charles Perkins Oration

On Saturday 13 November we celebrated the life and work of one of our most impactful alumni, Dr Charles Perkins.

This year marked the 21st anniversary of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration and Memorial Prize. We are proud to have partnered with the ABC as the host broadcaster to bring you this special online event with keynote speaker Tony McAvoy SC.

Watch on demand

Counsellor McAvoy is a Wirdi man from the central Queensland area around Clermont. He is Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel and Co-Chair of the Indigenous Legal Issues Committee of the Law Council of Australia.

Appointed Senior Counsel in 2015, Tony has developed a strong native title practice and has significant experience in the areas of environmental law, administrative law, human rights and discrimination law, coronial inquests and criminal law.

In 1965, as a student at the University of Sydney, Charles Perkins organised a student bus tour around New South Wales. This was called the Freedom Ride, and it highlighted the state of race relations in Australia. It is recognised as one of Australia's most significant civil rights events.  

Named in honour of Australia's first Aboriginal graduate, the Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration and Prize was established in 2001 to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions made by Charles and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to our community, country and society.

21 years on, the theme of race relations is still current. This event helps to build an understanding of race relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and empower individuals and the wider community to contribute to this important conversation. 

Prize winners

Celebrating the University’s deep history and connection to First Nations Peoples, the Oration includes a recognition of academically gifted students through the Charles Perkins Memorial Prize.

Awarded to the top three Indigenous students at the University based on the highest academic results in their field, each winner is awarded $4000.

The 2021 recipients of the Charles Perkins Memorial Prize are:

  • Tully Brown 
    Bachelor of Education, Health and Physical Education 
  • Georgia Mantle
    Bachelor of Social Work
  • Benjamin Wilson
    Bachelor of Arts, Media and Communications

Who is Charlie Perkins?

“I am hard-nosed about some things and you have to be in Aboriginal affairs."

The legacy of Charles Perkins

Rachel Perkins explains the significance of the Charles Perkins Oration.

Speaking out

Past Orators reflect on 20 years of the Charles Perkins Oration.

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