In order to help improve the situation of Australia's indigenous populations, activist Charles Perkins made it his mission to shine a light on the plight of this disenfranchised population. His hope was that, by showing the Australian public the truth of how Aboriginals were treated and forced to live, there would be a public outcry for change.
Using his own fame as an accomplished athlete, Perkins was able to draw attention to the plight of Aboriginals beginning in the early 1960s. He was a leading participant in the Australian Freedom Rides, as well as other public acts of protests. He was also a founding member of the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs. He later began working with the government in the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Perkins made many public appearances, helped produce radio and television segments, and wrote prolifically, with the purpose of showing the Australian public just how badly the country's native population had been marginalized. He was a leading voice in the 1967 Referendum which would allow more inclusiveness for Aboriginals in government. All this made it nearly impossible for the Australian public to ignore his cause.
Perkins sought to bring attention to the cause of the Aboriginal people in Australia. He changed people's attitudes because he was able to bring this condition from silence where people could easily claim ignorance of it and move it to the center of discourse. As early as 1961, Perkins was publicly advocating and speaking towards a condition in which Aboriginal people experienced the worst of Australian society. Perkins helped to change people's attitudes of indigenous Australians by suggesting that there was " a double standard in action: attractive homes for the white staff and tin shanties for the Aboriginal residents." In the Freedom Ride of the mid 1960s, Perkins brought attention to this predicament. He and other students traveled to small towns in Australia where segregation and discrimination were the norm. Perkins was able to open a discussion that had remained closed for a great deal of time in Australian history.
Using television and media coverage, Perkins and his group were able to raise awareness of the condition that indigenous Australians faced. In doing so, he was able to change people's attitudes by compelling them to make a choice. Since he was able to publicize what was happening with Aboriginal people, Perkins ensured that people who supported such a system would endure a level of shame for doing so. Ignorance no longer became a viable option with Perkins' publicizing the conditions experienced and faced by indigenous Australians. Taking a page out of the Civil Rights Movement in America, Perkins was able to change people's attitudes by forcing them to confront the truth about racial segregation in Australia and how indigenous people were being treated.