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Charles Perkins Print Page Print this page

19-May-2015
19-May-2015

Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown

A monument commemorates Charles Perkins and the Freedom Ride.

The Freedom Ride set off on the night of the 12 February 1965. Its aim was to campaign, in the country towns of New South Wales, against racial discrimination that was rife in these insular communities. In 1965 Aboriginal people were not citizens. They were dispossessed from the land, which they lived on before colonisation. They were forced to all live together on small pockets of land on the edge of towns. These places were called reserves and missions. The living conditions of these places were atrocious. There was sub-standard housing, with people living in shanties. There was no plumbing, no electricity and no amenities. Things were hard for Aboriginals on these reserves, and even harder in the towns. In town there was unbearable racism. Aboriginals did not have access to amenities, such as cafes, cinemas, theatres, hotels and swimming pools; things taken for granted today. Not only that, but there was a lot of verbal, and sometimes physical, abuse, just because they were Aboriginal.

Charles Perkins had enrolled at Sydney University in 1963, and along with Gary Williams, made up the first Aboriginal students to attend Sydney University. Charles had travelled abroad to play soccer, and in doing so had been exposed to different societal behaviour. He believed that his people deserved more, and that racial discrimination was holding them back. Thus Charles decided to confront white Australians about their treatment of Aboriginal people. To do this he decided to duplicate the United States Freedom rides, get a bus and travel rural New South Wales to protest against the segregation that was prevalent. 29 other students set off with Charles on the night of the 12 February. With their return there was greater awareness of Indigenous issues rurally. They had successfully stirred up debate on the state of Aboriginal affairs around Australia. With the press coverage they had obtained, came pressure from outside and within Australia for reform. This debate was maintained up the 1967 Referendum. The Freedom Rides have also been credited with helping end the ‘White Australia’ policy.

Location

Address:Belgrave Street , Kempsey Swimming Pool, Kempsey, 2440
State:NSW
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -31.079457
Long: 152.834757
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Indigenous
Link:http://www.acph.nicheit.com.au

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 1st December, 2000
Front Inscription

IN REMEMBRANCE OF 
DR. CHARLES N. PERKINS OA  
FOR HIS INSPIRATIONAL WORK
A MAN WHO CHOSE TO LIVE HIS LIFE FIGHTING 
FOR THE RIGHTS OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE 
THROUGHOUT AUSTRALIA.

WE REMEMBER HIM FOR HIS CONVICTIONS ON THE FREEDOM 
RIDE THROUGHOUT N.S.W. AND IN PARTICULAR ON 
FEBRUARY 27TH. 1967 AT THE KEMPSEY SWIMMING POOL.

THIS PLAQUE WAS UNVEILED ON THE FIRST DAY OF DECEMBER, 2000 BY THE PERKINS FAMILY

EILEEN LAURA PERKINS
KEITH ADAM AND RACHEL

PETER MAINEY
Councillor For 
Kempsey Shire Council

Source: MA,ACPH
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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