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Memorial Prize Winners at the Dr Charles Perkins Oration
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Celebrating this year’s Charles Perkins Memorial Prize winners

26 October 2022

Hear from our winners about what it means to be awarded the Charles Perkins Memorial Prize

Each year, the Dr Charles Perkins Oration celebrates the outstanding contributions he and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have made to our community. 

On Tuesday 25 October, the University held the 22nd Dr Charles Perkins Oration, named in honour of Australia's first Aboriginal graduate, Dr Charles Nelson Perkins AO.

Dr Perkins graduated in 1966 and dedicated his life to achieving justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

The Dr Charles Perkins Oration recognises the outstanding contributions he and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have made to our community, country and society. It also provides an opportunity to celebrate the Charles Perkins Memorial Prize winners – the top four Indigenous students at the University based on the highest academic results in their field. 

Congratulations to: 

  • Mirritya Ebsworth 
    Arts and Social Sciences

  • Bree Foyle 
    Medicine and Health

  • Fiona Wright 
    Medicine and Health

  • Rachel Montgomery 
    Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning

Mirritya, Bree, Fiona and Rachel share some of their thoughts. 

A photograph of Mirritya Ebsworth at the Dr Charles Perkins Oration

Mirritya Ebsworth

Mirritya Ebsworth - Master of Indigenous Languages Education (MILE) 

What does it mean to you to be awarded the Charles Perkins Memorial Prize this year? 

"To receive this award is a great honour. Charles Perkins paved the way for positive change, and his work has enabled people like me to have the opportunity to achieve in the academic arena.  I am now a part of that legacy, so it is my responsibility to enable future generations to reach their potential. This award is recognition of my achievement, but I did not walk alone to get here. I am grateful for the encouragement of my friends, the support and sacrifices of my son and the inspiration and resilience of my Ancestors."

Charles Perkins paved the way for positive change, and his work has enabled people like me to have the opportunity to achieve in the academic arena.
Mirritya Ebsworth, Master of Indigenous Languages Education (MILE)
A photograph of Bree Foyle at the Dr Charles Perkins Oration

Bree Foyle

Bree Foyle - Graduate Diploma Indigenous Health Promotion

What does it mean to you to be awarded the Charles Perkins Memorial Prize this year?

"I feel extremely honoured to be a recipient of the prestigious Charles Perkins AO Memorial Award. The inspiring legacy of Charles Perkins has paved the way for First Nation students such as myself, to be able to accomplish my goals personally and professionally. His legacy has instilled strength, determination, and courage for both First Nations and Non-First Nations people to bring about change for the injustices and disparities endured by First Nations people and their communities, in the past, present, and future. I can only hope, I can leave a positive footprint for future generations, as Charles Perkins did."

A photograph of Fiona Wright at the Dr Charles Perkins Oration

Fiona Wright

Fiona Wright - Graduate Diploma Indigenous Health Promotion

How does the legacy of Charles Perkins inspire you in your degree and within your everyday life?

"Education is power. Social determinants, in particular education, explain the disparity in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I work hard supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through their education journey at university, many coming from social situations not too different than Charles Perkins. His legacy inspires me to nurture and encourage students to succeed, graduate and become part of the solution in closing the gap for our people."

His [Charles Perkins] legacy has instilled strength, determination, and courage for both First Nations and Non-First Nations people to bring about change for the injustices and disparities endured by First Nations people and their communities, in the past, present, and future.
Bree Foyle, Graduate Diploma Indigenous Health Promotion
A photograph of Rachel Montgomery at the Dr Charles Perkins Oration

Rachel Montgomery

Rachel Montgomery - Bachelor of Design Computing (Hons) 

What lasting impact would you like to leave when you graduate to inspire the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students? 

"I would love to remind current and prospective students that we are all capable of challenging ourselves, and whether or not that results in an award or scholarship doesn't matter. What matters is that you push yourself to utilise the opportunities awarded to you by those who came before. It's both saddening and humbling to reflect on my grandfather; to think about my opportunities and advantages in the light of his unwanted and unearned limitations and to think about the opportunities that we can strive to open up for the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

The Charles Perkins Memorial Prize is made possible through the Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust and our Indigenous Strategy and Services portfolio.

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