Nov 4th 2022

GetUp CEO Larissa Baldwin-Roberts delivers Charles Perkins Oration on the opportunity of a referendum

“Good campaigns don’t say what is popular, they make popular what needs to be said. That is our challenge.” - Larissa Baldwin-Roberts

GetUp CEO, Larissa Baldwin-Roberts, a proud Widjabul Wia-bul woman from the Bundjalung Nations delivered this year's Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration to a standing ovation in the Great Hall, at the University of Sydney - binding her leadership for collective truth telling and highlighting the incredible power of activism and its role in the transformative decade ahead for First Nations.

Through the leadership of her old people, like Charles Perkins, Larissa will continue to harness the community power we are seeing across the country and transform that power into truth telling and change - offering a better future for Australia - expanding our democracy and seeing First Nations people as part of our governmental decision making.

“Good campaigns don’t say what is popular, they make popular what needs to be said. That is our challenge.” - Larissa Baldwin-Roberts in her keynote speech at the Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration.

Speaking about the referendum at the oration Larissa Baldwin-Roberts said:

“If Charlie was here, he would be telling all of us to hold this space. Shaking us to understand that what we’re in is a very unique, once in a lifetime, moment. These opportunities don’t just come around. 

“There are still issues with voter suppression and barriers that prevent First Nations people from having their vote - we cannot go to a vote on this referendum until that is fixed. In the last ten years there has been wide scale voter suppression and if it’s not fixed there will be no mandate from Aboriginal communities. 

“Everyone needs to be able to articulate what this moment is and what it means for them because some moments are too important to leave it to governments to decide, and this is one of those moments.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the problem. But we don’t give nearly enough time to talk about how it could be different - that is what is required - all of the generations of fights and protest, resistance and persistence - we learn from this.”

Larissa’s oration focused on the legacy of Charles Perkins as a freedom fighter and catalyst for substantive change in this country.

“Charlie was born in the aftermath of the frontier wars and the extreme violence our people faced when we were being forced onto missions. For his generation, survival was an ongoing fight, and in many cases the violence of invasion was still a living memory.

“Charlie is remembered as a freedom fighter when assimilation and segregation was widely practised in this country. In the face of that, he stood up against racism, called out hypocrisy and woke up this Nation, and that was the catalyst for substantive change in this country.

“We are entering what could be a transformative decade for First Nations rights and climate action, but my biggest fear is, if we squander this moment, we won’t have learnt the lessons of what people like Charlie taught us.

“Their legacy to us is not a history lesson but a call to action, to continue the fight until we achieve real self determination, justice and equality.

“I would like to think if Charlie was alive he would like to see the momentum and the possibility that is in this country right now.

“I hope people will see that governments won’t save us - it’s about the movements we build, the conversations we have and the values we hold as a society.”

Media contact: Amy Morgan,, +61 2 8188 2870

Notes to Editors:

  • 22 years on, the theme of race relations is still current and each year the Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration helps to build an understanding of race relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and empower others to contribute to the conversation. Watch Getup CEO, Larissa Baldwin deliver the keynote for Dr Charles Perkins Oration, airing today on ABC, 10:45am

  • GetUp CEO Larissa Baldwin-Roberts is available for interview on request. GetUp is a multi-issue campaigning organisation and Larissa can speak to the following issues:

    • Climate disasters and community impact 
    • Community control and justice 
    • Electoral work
    • Gas campaign and working with communities
    • Lismore, family, activism
    • Cultural heritage and land rights