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Charles Perkins
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Aboriginal Activist, Born 1936, Alice Springs NT, Died 2000

The first Aboriginal Australian to graduate from university, Charles Perkins was also one of the most controversial of Indigenous leaders. As a pioneering Aboriginal spokesman and bureaucrat, his determined and occasionally combative stance and his energetic entrepreneurial and reformist activities, have earned him many enemies as well as admirers.

Perkins's involvement in the Freedom Ride through rural New South Wales in the early 1960s played a crucial role in demonstrating that Aboriginal people could begin to stand up for themselves. His work as a public servant in Canberra brought about many advances for Aboriginal people, but also attracted a great deal of criticism, culminating in his eventual sacking by the Hawke Government. This was followed by an inquiry, which cleared him of the charges that were brought against him. Although he did not return to government administration, he continued to speak out on Aboriginal issues.

This program explores the personal experiences that fuelled his restless energy. It seeks to find the roots of the great anger against white injustice that landed him in so much trouble in the course of a life of exceptional achievement. Perkins gives his own account of his early life in Alice Springs and Adelaide, his youth as a soccer star, his work on behalf of the Aboriginal people and his vision for the future of Australia.

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Australian Biography