Dr Charles Perkins Oration annual event

Dr Charles Perkins Oration

On Tuesday 19 September, we celebrated the life and work of one of our most impactful alumni, Dr Charles Perkins.

This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration and Memorial Prize. We are proud partners of the ABC, as the host broadcaster bringing you this special event with keynote speaker, Rachel Perkins.

2023 Orator - Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins - Keynote Speaker

A proud Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman, Rachel Perkins has worked as an Australian film and television director, producer, and screenwriter. Throughout 2023, she has been deeply immersed in vital efforts concerning The Voice to Parliament, passionately advocating for the impending referendum's importance and enlightening individuals about the positive transformations it promises for First Nations. Her lifelong dedication revolves around enhancing Australians' understanding of Indigenous history and culture.

Rachel has dedicated her life’s work to better inform Australians on the history of Indigenous people and culture. Rachel's career in Film and Media for over 30 years has led her to become an educator, leader, and mentor. She has been inspiring the next generations of First Nations storytellers. Most recently has taken this year off from her filmmaking to dedicate herself towards the Yes campaign, advocating and promoting the importance of The Voice To Parliament.

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 Dr Charles Nelson Perkins AO, who was the first Aboriginal man to graduate from the University of Sydney in 1966, 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.

22 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. 

Watch on demand - 2023 Charles Perkins Oration with Rachel Perkins

Charles Perkins Memorial Prize Winners

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

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

The 2023 recipients of the Charles Perkins Memorial Prize are:

  • Rachal Allan
    Medicine and Health
  • Aneika Kapeen
    Medicine and Health
  • Keona Wilson
    Medicine and Health

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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