UNSW Sydney has presented renowned curator, researcher, and writer, Hetti Perkins (BA'88), an Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman, with its 2017 Alumni Award for outstanding achievement in Arts & Culture. 

Each year UNSW recognises exceptional graduates who have achieved distinction in their field of endeavour. Recipients are acknowledged in the areas of the Arts and Culture, Business and Innovation, Design, Engineering and Sustainability, Medicine and Health, Social Impact and Public Policy, Science and Technology, Sports and Sports Administration. International Alumni and Young Alumni are also acknowledged in these Awards.

Nominations for the Awards are submitted from around the globe and a specialist selection committee reviews all candidates and presents recommendations to the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor. 

Hetti Perkins, daughter of pioneering Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins who led the Freedom Ride through NSW in 1965, and who is herself recognised internationally as being a leading voice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures, was a stand-out 2017 in the category of arts and culture.

Curator and writer Hetti Perkins is currently a curatorial advisor to the City of Sydney on the commissioning of a series of major public artworks for the Eora Journey in Sydney city. Along with Jonathan Jones, Perkins curates the annual Black Arts Market at Carriageworks, Sydney. She is a curatorial adviser to Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers and manages the Collectors + Curators program for the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF). Perkins founded the Charlie Perkins Trust for Children and Students and is a trustee of the Michael Riley Foundation.

Perkins has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual art for thirty years, beginning with the Sydney Gallery of Aboriginal Arts Australia (the federal government’s marketing agency for Aboriginal art). Until 2011, she was the Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Perkins wrote and presented a national documentary series, art+soul, directed by Warwick Thornton (2010) and Steven McGregor (2014) for the ABC. She was an agent for dOCUMENTA (13), 2012 and curated Earth + Sky: John Mawurndjul and Gulumbu Yunupingu for the TarraWarra Museum of Art in 2015.