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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Kumantjayi Perkins at the Roma Forum, Brisbane

1982
Juno Gemes

gelatin silver photograph on paper, edition A/P (sheet: 51.0 cm x 60.8 cm, image: 29.4 cm x 44.1 cm)

Charles Perkins AO (1936–2000) was an Indigenous rights campaigner and bureaucrat. Son of a Kalkadoon father and Arrernte mother, as a youth in Adelaide Perkins was a sought-after soccer player; after completing a trade apprenticeship, he played professionally in England. Widely credited as the first Indigenous person to attain a bachelor's degree from an Australian university, in 1965 he was a prominent organiser of and participant in the anti-discrimination 'freedom rides' through country NSW. He began his Commonwealth public service career in 1969 at the Office for Aboriginal Affairs, which became Department of Aboriginal Affairs in 1972. That year he received a kidney transplant and appeared at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Having weathered a twelve-month suspension from the public service, during which he published his 1975 autobiography A Bastard Like Me, in 1976 he returned to the DAA, becoming Secretary from 1984 to 1988. He was chair of the Arrernte Council of Central Australia between 1991 and 2000, and commissioner and deputy chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Commission from 1994 to 1995. Perkins continued his involvement in various sports, particularly soccer, until he died. He was accorded a State funeral, held in Sydney.

Juno Gemes took this photograph of Perkins, then chair of the Aboriginal Development Commission, during National Land Rights Action in Brisbane in 1982.

Gift of the artist 2004. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Juno Gemes/Copyright Agency, 2022

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Juno Gemes (age 38 in 1982)

Charles Perkins AO (age 46 in 1982)

Donated by

Juno Gemes (19 portraits)

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency