26 May 2023

In this episode, we speak to Rachel Perkins, a film and television director, on her dedication to telling indigenous stories and the Voice to Parliament.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are warned that the following podcast contains stories about deceased persons.

Listen here:

Released at the start of Reconciliation Week 2023, Sharon Bessell and Arnagretta Hunter acknowledge the 6th anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and discuss with Rachel how those fighting for change are trying to make it happen.

Rachel talks about the legacy her documentary The Australian Wars leaves for future generations and how important it is that school students today are taught the true history of our indigenous peoples.

She also discusses the legacy of her work and that of her father, Charles ‘Charlie’ Perkins. As a civil rights activist, he led the University of Sydney students on a ‘Freedom Ride’, which played an important role in shaping the 1967 referendum, but also the conversation around our current Voice to Parliament referendum.

“We put our trust in the Australian people and hopes in the Australian people because we have had our trust and hopes shattered so many times by the government,” she says.

All indigenous people are asking for, she says, is a modest request to have an advisory body cemented into the constitution. Unless the majority of Australians back this request, the government won’t listen to indigenous people, “in a way, our fellow Australians’ voice, gives us a voice.”


Rachel Perkins is a film and television director, producer, and screenwriter and a proud Arrente and Kalkadoon woman. Rachel has directed a number of significant films including Radiance, One Night the Moon, Bran Nue Dae, and Jasper Jones and a number of documentaries including The Australian Wars. She is also co-chair of Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition, one of the most prominent ‘Yes’ institutions in the country.

Sharon Bessell is a Professor of Public Policy and Director of both the Children’s Policy Centre and the Poverty and Inequality Research Centre at ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

Arnagretta Hunter is the Human Futures Fellow at ANU College of Health and Medicine, a cardiologist, physician, and a Senior Clinical Lecturer at ANU Medical School.


Show notes | The following was mentioned during this episode

The Australian Wars – Directed by Rachel Perkins (2022)

Waitangi Tribunal – New Zealand Government

Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017)

2022 Australian Reconciliation Barometer – Reconciliation Australia (2022)

Beacon of Democracy: The strength of listening – Helen Haines on Policy Forum Pod (2023)

Lessons from South Australia’s Voice to Parliament – Dale Agius on Policy Forum Pod (2023)

Courting change: Indigenous reconciliation – Kate Auty on Policy Forum Pod (2023)

Speaking from the heart – Aunty Patricia Anderson AO on Policy Forum Pod (2021)

1965 Freedom Ride – Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies


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