We share our great sadness at the news that today, 13 September 2022, Uncle Jack Charles passed after a short illness. 2022 has bought us yet more Sorry Business, having sent another treasured Elder on their final journey.
Uncle Jack Charles was a Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta survivor of the Stolen Generations, which impacted so many aspects of his life, caused him great pain, but also provided him with an endless talent for humour, resilience and an artistic gift that inspired many.
This National NAIDOC Week we had the opportunity to honour Uncle Jack with the 2022 National NAIDOC Male Elder Award. Uncle Jack talked openly about his life and shared his story as the first to participate in truth-telling at the public hearings of the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Having overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles himself, his example of overcoming those obstacles and making his life an example of resilience in the face of adversity, made him a role model for so many.
His caring nature and ability to engage and talk with others with that special twinkle in his eyes, lent itself to mentoring Indigenous inmates, advocating with those in prison against recidivism. His personal experiences made him the perfect mentor to talk from the heart and break the cycle.
Uncle Jack Charles was a remarkable man, a beloved Elder, and grandfather of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatre, Nindethana established in 1972. He was an accomplished actor, musician, potter and gifted performer. His legacy of over 50 years in Australian arts and theatre, will live on through his canon of theatrical and literary works and his tireless contributions to the Australian community.
Uncle Jack Charles shared: “As an elder, I hope to be a glorious reminder of my people’s culture, our place of belonging, our kinship, community and connection.” That you will forever be Uncle.
Our love and condolences to the family and all that knew and loved him.
National NAIDOC Committee
Permission has been given by the family to use Uncle Jack Charles name.