Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Roach, Uncle Archibald William (Archie), AM
It is with deep sadness that I rise to speak on the passing of Uncle Archie. Our nation suffered a profound loss with the passing of Gunditjmara and Bundjalung senior elder Uncle Archie Roach. I had the privilege of speaking with his family over the weekend to offer heartfelt condolences from my mob to his, and in doing that I got to hear how much they loved and adored him. I want to thank his family for generously sharing such an incredible human with the world and offer, again, my sincerest condolences.
I was very fortunate to witness one of his last performances earlier this year at the Treaty Day Out in Shepparton. As soon as he was on stage for his set, the entire crowd moved towards the stage so they wouldn't miss a moment of his words—a beautiful thing to bear witness to.
Uncle Archie was a truth teller, activist and healer. He had a uniquely articulate way of being able to tell the difficult truths of our nation in a way that people could really hear, feel and understand. His music has been described as being built on pain but driven by hope—how very true. Uncle Archie's pain was born out of being a stolen generations survivor. He gave voice to so many survivors with his music. It's heartbreaking to know that he was stolen so young that he has no memory of his mother and he never got to see her again before she passed. My heart smiles when I think of him being reunited and singing again with his great love, Aunty Ruby Hunter, and my heart sings to know that he will finally be reunited with his father and have unlimited moments to embrace his mother in the Dreaming.
There are many people who aspire to contribute to our society in a way that leaves it in a better place than when they got here, but very few really achieve this. Our country is a much better place thanks to his wisdom and music. Our country is a much better place thanks to Uncle Archie. 'Thank you' seems so inadequate in comparison to what you gave all of us, but I've been told that you didn't like a fuss being made over you; you were happy with just a cuppa and a Monte Carlo biscuit. So I'll say thanks by having a cuppa and a bickie for you today, Uncle. May your legacy live on forever. Rest in power, Uncle Archie Roach.