Dr Charles Nelson Perrurle Perkins AO (1936-2000) was from the Arrenrnte and Kalkadoon people and Australia's pre-eminent civil rights activist who dedicated his life to achieving justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
His two passions in life were Aboriginal Affairs and soccer and he said that "Soccer was where I got my satisfaction, my fulfilment".
Dr Perkins credited soccer as being the reason for "being accepted not just onto the soccer field but also into the wider cosmopolitan soccer community and the world of international travel" according to Professor John Maynard’s The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe.
Dr Perkins played for Adelaide Croatia, Pan Hellenic in Sydney and was a 'first pick' for the South Australian state squad. He also played for lower division Bishop Auckland in England and trialled for Everton and was invited to trial for Manchester United in England.
In 1965, as a student at the University of Sydney, Dr Perkins organised a student bus tour around New South Wales to draw attention to the state of Indigenous health, education and housing, and to try and stimulate local action.
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.
In 1966, Dr Perkins was the first Aboriginal man to graduate from a university in Australia. His subsequent achievements included appointments as head of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and chairman of the Aboriginal Development Commission and Aboriginal Hostels. Dr Perkins was a fearless spokesman and renowned activist in Indigenous issues.
We gratefully acknowledge Mrs Eileen Perkins and the Perkins family for the honour of allowing us to name the Academy after Charles Perkins.