Dan Andrews apologizes to Aboriginal musician Archie Roach for stolen generation
The Victorian government has formally apologized to singer and storyteller Archie Roach at his state funeral in Melbourne.
The elder Gunditjmara-Bundjalung died in July at the age of 66 after a long illness.
For many years, Uncle Archie performed with his partner in life and music, the late Ruby Hunter, and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020 having won eight ARIA Awards.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has apologized to Uncle Archie for his forcible separation from his family at the age of two, an act that alienated him from his country, culture, community and language.
Previous government policies and laws had caused Uncle Archie immense pain, suffering and despair, the prime minister said.
“We apologize for the extreme inhumane acts committed against you, the torture, the unspeakable pain and the intergenerational trauma that you and your family continue to experience,” Andrews said Thursday.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has formally apologized on behalf of the state government to the late musician Archie Roach.
The apology was accepted by Uncle Archie’s sister, Aunt Myrtle Evans.
In a tribute, Uncle Graham ‘Bootsie’ Thorpe reminisced about his old friend and their time together in Fitzroy in the 1970s.
“Archie and Ruby, they were each other’s backbone and heartbeat, and I think they inspired a lot of today’s younger generations with their music,” he said.
“Archie wasn’t much of a talker, more of a listener, but he expressed himself through the songs he sang. If you listen to them well, you will start crying, because they are real.’
Uncle Archie’s cancer specialist, Associate Professor Lou Irving, described how in his later years the musician would muster the strength to get out of intensive care and perform on stage.
Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter are pictured during the 2008 ARIA Awards after party
“He would sit in a chair with a guitar and an energy would come from somewhere… a superhuman effort to get the word out, his vision for a better Australia,” he said.
The service drew thousands of people to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and hundreds more watched online.
Among Australian music greats who performed in his honour, Paul Kelly and Fred Leone performed Charcoal Lane, Radical Son sang an emotional rendition of Walking Into Doors accompanied by David Bridie and Dan Sultan performed Move It On.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews presents Aunt Myrtle Roach with an official state government apology on December 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia.
Sally Dastey, Amy Saunders, Deline Briscoe, Jen Anderson and Emma Donovan perform during the State Memorial Service for Archie Roach on December 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia.
Uncle Kutcha Edwards sang Took the Children Away with Uncle Archie’s son, Amos Roach, the 1990 debut single that reflected Uncle Archie’s experience as a member of the Stolen Generation.
Shane Howard and the Goanna Band gave a moving rendition of Liyarn Ngarn, Uncle Archie’s song that accompanied the 2007 documentary of the same name.
“I feel his spirit so strong here tonight with everyone here…he took all of that pain, all of that suffering and turned it into powerful art and healing, and he carried it all on his broad shoulders,” Shane Howard said.
Uncle Kutcha Edwards (pictured) sang a revised version of the Australian National Anthem on December 15, 2022 at a State Memorial Service held to celebrate the life and music of Archie Roach.
Dan Sultan (pictured right) performs during the State Memorial Service for Archie Roach, who died in July.