Revered First Nations actor, author and Victorian Aboriginal elder Uncle Jack Charles has died, aged 79.
His publicist said the Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta man, who also had links to several other clans across south-eastern Australia, passed away peacefully this morning at the Royal Melbourne Hospital after suffering a stroke.
In a career spanning several decades, the Stolen Generations survivor used his creative platforms to share painful and personal truths about the brutal impact of government policies on his community.
He also worked with the late Uncle Archie Roach to support Indigenous prisoners.
Uncle Jack remained highly active into his later years, starring in ABC TV series Cleverman and appearing in SBS’s Who Do You Think You Are? program last year, where he discovered the identity of his father and his family’s ties to more Aboriginal nations across Victoria and Tasmania.
SBS will replay the episode tonight at 7:30pm.
His other credits include Preppers, Back to the Outback, Black Comedy, Rosehaven, Grace Beside Me, Fancy Boy, Rake, Wolf Creek, The Gods of Wheat Street, Problems, Woodley, We Can Be Heroes, Women of the Sun, Rush, Ben Hall and the films Blackfellas, Mystery Road, Pan, and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.
His family has given permission for his name and image to be used, and said in a statement that “he will live on in our hearts and memories through his numerous screen and stage roles”.
“We are so proud of everything he has achieved in his remarkable life – Elder, actor, musician, potter, activist, mentor, a household name and voice loved by all.”
Uncle Jack was the NAIDOC male Elder of the year this year. His family had arranged a smoking ceremony at the hospital as the actor passed, the statement said.
This post updates.