A State Memorial Service to celebrate the life and music of Uncle Archie Roach AM was held on 15 December 2022 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
Uncle Archie Roach was a proud Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man, a storyteller, a singer and songwriter, a cultural figure, a survivor and an icon.
Family, friends and fans came together with members of the broader Victorian Aboriginal community to pay tribute to Uncle Archie’s legacy and his unique contribution to Australian music and culture.
Prior to the Service, a Smoking Ceremony was held on the lawns of Sidney Myer Music Bowl, featuring the Koorie Youth Will Shake Spears, Djirri Djirri, Murrundaya Yepengna, Bandok Tati and Yarrabah Dancers.
The Service commenced with a Welcome to Country from Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin, Aunty Di Kerr, Uncle Colin Hunter Jr, and Uncle Ringo Terrick, followed by an introduction from the hosts, Dr Shellie Morris and Rulla Kelly-Mansell.
The Honourable Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria, provided an address during which he offered an apology to Uncle Archie on behalf of the Victorian Government.
The letter of apology addressed Uncle Archie’s forced removal from his family, country, community, culture and language as a member of the Stolen Generations. Uncle Archie’s sister, Aunty Myrtle Roach, accepted the letter on his behalf.
Uncle Kutcha Edwards performed a revised national anthem before taking part in a moving performance of his most iconic song, ‘Took the Children Away,’ alongside Amos Roach, Nola Lauch, Pertame School Choir and Dusty Feet Mob dance group.
This was the first of a number of performances that paid tribute to Uncle Archie’s music, with artists including Briggs, Paul Kelly AO, Dan Sultan and Emma Donovan performing a range of Uncle Archie’s songs.
The Service also featured tributes from Uncle Archie’s family and friends, reflecting on his advocacy for First Peoples and contribution to the state, community and country.
Please note that due to copyright and licencing restrictions related to performances during the Service, it is not possible to publish a recording.
A Smoking Ceremony took place prior to the State Memorial Service. Photo by Phil Nitchie.
Aunty Joy Wandin Murphy AO performed a Welcome to Country. Photo by Phil Nitchie.
Uncle Archie’s sister, Aunty Myrtle Roach, accepted on behalf of her brother Premier Daniel Andrews’ apology.
Adam Briggs, Paul Kelly AO, Emma Donovan and Jessica Hitchcock performed ‘The Children Came Back.’
Uncle Graham ‘Bootsie’ Thorpe and Uncle Talgium ‘Choco’ Howard Edwards paid tribute to Uncle Archie.