Thursday, 8 May 2014

2014 Charlie Perkins Scholarship Recipients Announced

Contact: Richard Potok, The Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust

Intended Audience: All interested

The Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust is pleased to announce the 2014 recipients of the Charlie Perkins Scholarships, a scheme assisting Indigenous Australians to pursue postgraduate study at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The three 2014 Charlie Perkins Scholars are: University of Newcastle graduate Jessica Buck, University of Western Australia graduate Jessyca Hutchens, and Edith Cowan University graduate Tamara Murdock.

Jessica Buck, a descendant of the Kamilaroi people, has been accepted to undertake an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. She recently completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science with Distinction and a Diploma of Languages (Japanese) at the University of Newcastle (both with a high distinction average).

Jessyca Hutchens, a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region, has been accepted to both the DPhil in Fine Arts at the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford and the MPhil in the History of Art and Architecture at Cambridge. She graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts in 2010, obtaining her Bachelor of Laws with Distinction, and her Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Fine Art History.

Tamara Murdock, a descendant of the Noongar and Yindjibarndi people, has been accepted to undertake an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford. She graduated from Edith Cowan University with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Management) in 2011.

Jessica Buck also has been awarded the James Fairfax Oxford Australia Scholarship. Both Tamara and Jessyca work at the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation in Geraldton and Perth, respectively. All three 2014 scholars have participated in the annual Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour to leading universities the UK and the US.

The scholarship program was established in 2009 in the memory of Dr Charlie Perkins AO, one of the first Indigenous Australians to graduate from university. Charlie was inspired to return to Australia to undertake university study after playing in a soccer match against the University of Oxford. He completed a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University in 1966.

Speaking about the scholarships, the Chair of the Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust, Rachel Perkins said:

"The Trust is proud to support these three extraordinary Indigenous scholars in their studies at Oxford and Cambridge this year. These scholarships are designed to support Indigenous Australians who have the potential to become leaders in their field of study and in their communities, and I am confident that our 2014 Scholars will fulfil this hope.

Three-and-a-half years ago there had never been an Indigenous Australian studying for a full-time degree at Oxford or Cambridge. Today, through ours and various other scholarship programs, 24 Indigenous Australians have been accepted for full-time postgraduate degrees at Oxford and Cambridge, and the first 5 graduated in 2013. These inspiring students have been accepted to 2 of the top 5 universities in the world purely on the basis of academic merit, a feat that some said was inconceivable.

We are extremely honoured to be a part of the celebration of these students, their families and their communities' success. I sincerely thank the Australian Government, the British Government (through the Chevening program), Rio Tinto, the Vice Chancellor and Development Office at Oxford University, the Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust, Cambridge Australia Scholarships, the Pratt Foundation, Justice John Basten, the McCusker Foundation, the University of Canberra and the many smaller donors who have made these outstanding awards possible."

British High Commissioner to Australia, Paul Madden, said:
"The British High Commission is delighted to be supporting this extremely worthwhile scholarship initiative as part of our Chevening Scholarships programme. I congratulate this year's three Charlie Perkins Scholars who have each shown exceptional leadership qualities in their academic and personal lives. It was good to see once again such a high calibre of applicants for the scholarship.

They are going to be studying at two of the finest universities in the world. I am sure they will benefit enormously from the experience, which will help them make a great contribution to Australian life in their future careers. I look forward to presenting the awards to this year's scholars at a high profile ceremony at my Residence in Canberra a little later in the year." 

On behalf of Rio Tinto, Debra Valentine, Group Executive, Legal, External and Regulatory Affairs in London said:
"The Charlie Perkins Scholarships open doors for some of the most talented people in the Indigenous community and we at Rio Tinto, as the largest private sector employee of indigenous Australians, are tremendously proud of our five year association with this programme. I have met many of the scholars and am continually impressed by their tenacity to succeed, their empathy for others and their commitment to give back to their communities. I know that they will make the most of this amazing opportunity." 

The scholarships are valued at over $70,000 per annum for up to three years and include all tuition fees and living expenses.
For more information on the Charlie Perkins Trust, please visit the website.

Applications for the 2014 Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour open at 9:00am AEST Monday 2 June.
For more information please visit the Aurora Project website.