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Dr Charles Perkins Oration

Watch the livestream on 12 November to celebrate our Indigenous community and learn more about race relations in Australia.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration and Prize. We are proud to partner with the ABC as the Host Broadcaster to bring you this special public online event during NAIDOC Week.

Event details

Date: Thursday, 12 November
Time: 8-9pm AEST
Where: Presented live from The Great Hall at the University of Sydney and you can watch the livestream on the following platforms:

Each year, we invite members from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to share their stories about their experiences, research, projects and ideas.

This year Stan Grant and Isabella Higgins will host the event.

Stan is a TV news and political journalist, TV presenter and author. He is is a proud Wiradjuri man and International Affairs Analyst at the ABC, occasional presenter on ABC TV, and Professor of Global Affairs at Griffith University in Queensland.

Isabella is ABC's National Indigenous Affairs Correspondent and is also the Winner of the Shortform Journalism category at the 2019 Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year Awards. She grew up in Queensland, as part of a proud Torres Strait Islander and Kaurareg family.

The Oration will be presented by Pat Turner. Pat is a Gurdanji and Arrernte woman and Chief Executive Officer of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Coalition of Peaks Convenor and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. 

The event will include:

  • A performance by Paul Kelly, an Australian rock music legend. Paul will be performing  ‘A Bastard Like Me’ the tribute to the late Charles Perkins which featured on his 2018 album Nature. Paul shares a close relationship with the Perkins family and hails Charlie Perkins as one of his heroes stating ‘he was very practical in his activism, hands-on, day-by-day, trying to make things better for his people.’ A Bastard Like Me’ is also the title of Charles Perkins’ autobiography.
  • Words from the Perkins family about how their father inspired the Oration and why race relations have always been a focus.
  • Words from students about what the Prize means to them.
  • Words from the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence AC. The Vice-Chancellor will award three prizes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in their final year of a bachelor or honours degree who demonstrate outstanding competency during their studies. 
  • A music performance by the Barayagal Choir.
  • Words from past Orators.
  • Oration/keynote speech by Pat Turner. 

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.

20 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. 

Don't worry if you can’t make the online event, a recording will be available on the University’s YouTube channel so you can celebrate in your own time or share it with your family and friends.

The event will also be broadcast on ABC News channel during NAIDOC Week.

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