Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Roach, Uncle Archibald William (Archie), AM
I note this is not my first speech. I rise today to join with so many other Australians to reflect on and honour the extraordinary legacy of Archie Roach and to add my condolences to Archie 's loved ones. I was so sad to hear of Archie's passing last week. He was a proud senior elder, a remarkable singer-songwriter and storyteller, and a loving partner, father and foster father.
For me and my family and community, Archie's music was a gift. It provided the soundtrack to our lives from the first album, Charcoal Lane, to his most recent album, Dancing with My Spirit, and with every album and song in between. But Archie's music was much more than a soundtrack; it's a truth telling, and it was a cultural gift of music which cut through to tell us the truth in a way that sometimes books and academic reading and history don't.
Seeing Uncle Archie and Aunty Ruby perform together is a powerful memory. It changed me. There are many ways to learn the truth. Art and music are so important to this, and Uncle Archie's gifts were rich and deep. He was a truth teller. His music and stories brought people across Australia to understand First Nations history and culture, including the ongoing and devastating impacts of colonisation. Through his songs, Archie provided a voice to First Nations people across the country. Of course, his song 'Took the Children Away' taught us all so much and will always be with me as a heart-wrenching recollection of his deep personal experience and the history of our long Stolen Generation and, as my colleagues Lydia and Dorinda have talked about and as others have said, such an important memory and truth telling for our country.
Archie was an inspiration to so many Australians. In an interview with the Guardian in 2019 Archie said:
You can reach the darkest point in our life and come back, and come back good.
This quote reflects his storytelling, which came from a place of deep colonial trauma and its legacy but often had a message of peace and healing. Archie will be remembered by Australians for his courage, for his clarity, for his artistry in telling his own story and for being a voice to the experiences of First Nations people across our country—indeed, all Australians—a teacher, an artist and, as Dorinda said, a healer. Rest in peace and in power, Archie. My condolences to your family: thank you for lending him to all of us for all those years.