Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Young Indigenous leaders to study at Oxford

Two young Indigenous scholars will travel to Britain to study at Oxford University as the inaugural winners of scholarships established in memory of the life and contribution of Aboriginal leader and activist, Charles Perkins.

Paul Gray, a Wiradjuri man from New South Wales, and Christian Thompson, a Bidjara man from south west Queensland, will further their studies at Oxford as recipients of post graduate scholarships supported by the Charlie Perkins Trust for Children and Students.

These two remarkable young men have already achieved so much in their chosen fields of study and will now have the opportunity to continue their studies overseas.

Through his scholarship, Paul will develop research on the neurobiological processes in children as a result of traumatic events early in life and explore how best to support children at risk of developing mental health problems.

Christian will undertake doctoral studies in Fine Arts, including research into Indigenous Australian artefacts, as well as furthering his interest in museum curatorship and contemporary research.

These scholarships honour the contribution of Dr Charles Perkins – the first Indigenous Australian to graduate from university. Dr Perkins dedicated his considerable abilities and great energy to achieve justice for Indigenous people.

Through his courageous leadership of the famous Freedom Ride and the role he played in the 1967 Referendum, Charles Perkins was not just an extraordinary leader of his people but an inspiration to all Australians.

The Australian Government wishes Paul and Christian the very best of luck as they embark on this next stage in their careers.

The Charlie Perkins Trust for Children and Students was established to improve Indigenous health, education and welfare and over the years has helped fund a dialysis unit in Kintore and swimming pools in Kintore and Maningrida in the Northern Territory. It has also established prizes for Indigenous students and an annual oration at Sydney University.

In recognition of the Trust’s contribution, the Government has invested $132,000 to support the establishment of the scholarship program.

The Trust’s scholarship program also receives substantial support from Rio Tinto, the British Government and Qantas.