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7 – 14 July 2024
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Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins

Creative Talent Award

Rachel Perkins is a proud Arrente and Kalkadoon woman, with German and Irish heritage and is one of Australia’s most significant storytellers. She is a writer, director and producer of award-winning television drama, documentaries and feature films, such as; The Australian Wars series, Total Control, Bran Nue Dae, Radiance, Redfern Now, Mabo, Mystery Road, and First Australians. Through her career spanning over 30 years in film and media, Rachel has become an educator, leader, and mentor, inspiring the next generations of First Nations storytellers. 

In much of her screen work, Rachel shares our nation’s true shared history through the voices, eyes and stories of our peoples. In 1992, Rachel founded Blackfella Films. A standout achievement for the company was the award-winning 7 part documentary series First Australians. The landmark multi-platform history series, broadcast on SBS Television to over 2.3 million viewers, was accompanied by an internationally acclaimed interactive website. First Australians was awarded Australia’s top honours for documentary including the Australian Film Institute (AFI) and IF Awards, the UN Media Peace Prize, TV Week Logie and Australian Writers and Directors Guild Awards. First Australians has sold throughout the world, and is the highest selling educational title in Australia.   

Rachel has contributed to the film and television industry on most of its major boards including the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, the Australian Film Commission, Screen Australia, NITV, Indigenous Screen Australia, the National Indigenous Media Association of Australia and the NSW Film and Television Office. Rachel received the inaugural Contribution to Television IF Award, the Byron Kennedy AFI Award in 2002 and the Australian International Documentary Conference Award in 2011. 

Through her on screen storytelling, Rachel takes us on an essential learning journey of shared histories that we were denied in the classroom. Through truth-telling, we are given the opportunity to acknowledge and grieve for countless crimes committed in the name of colonisation and assimilation.  

In 2017 Rachel was one of six 'Inspirational Australian Women' to secure funding from Newman's Own Foundation in honour of Paul Newman’s belief that every individual has the power to make a difference. Rachel has always believed in the power of the language of her forbears, and used this funding to enable Dr Veronica Perrurle Dobson AM to update and reprint the 1994 Eastern and Central Arrernte Dictionary. This dictionary is a Keeping Place of Rachel's paternal Arrernte language, identity and cultural knowledge. Every word is contextualised into a sentence to preserve grammar with vocabulary. 

Rachel's body of work and achievements include: 

  • Commissioner - at the Australian Film Commission from 2004 to 2008  
  • 2015 President of AIATSIS Foundation 
  • 2017 was one of six 'Inspirational Australian Women' to secure funding from Newman's Own Foundation in honour of Paul Newman' s 
  • 2019 Rachel delivered the ABC's annual Boyer Lecture which she entitled: The End of Silence, The Australian Wars series.  
  • 2022 Rachel co-delivered the National Press Club Luncheon with Professor Henry Reynolds. 
  • 2022 Rachel volunteered her time to answer the questions of 14 year old Alice Springs school students about Colonisation. 

Rachel is a media trailblazer for our Mob, and has dedicated both her life and career to truth-telling, ensuring our peoples stories, voices, and histories are heard and seen on screen.

Welcome to NAIDOC.

We acknowledge all First Peoples of the beautiful lands on which we live and celebrate their enduring knowledge and connections to Country. We honour the wisdom of and pay respect to Elders past and present.