Vale: Uncle Jack Charles

Revered First Nations actor, author and Victorian Aboriginal elder Uncle Jack Charles has died.

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.

Source; ABC, The Age

This post updates.

11 Responses

  1. I’m so sad we have lost another great in this country. To the powers that be “please give us a break from anymore loss”. Honour and respect. Thanks to his family for allowing his name to be spoken and his image to be seen, that is truly gracious. He will be missed but not forgotten. He will certainly Rest In Peace.
    PS I hope at this sad time we can all leave any racism out because this is definitely not the time to air the issue after a life so sadly lost.

  2. oh wow, this is just getting too much, another great loss for this world. For people like me who grew up in white middle class suburbia Uncle Jack & others like him have given us some invaluable insights on what it is like to have lived as an indigenous person in this country.

    What i loved so much about him & what was no doubt a great barrier breaker was his amazing sense of humour. I recall him on a talk show once recounting the story of how he used to do house burglaries years ago & figured he was just collecting the rent. There was also the time where the house owners recognized him after finding him hiding in a wardrobe & decided not to call the police on him. Vale Uncle Jack, fly high…

  3. This is shocking news.

    I was seeing him in so much media lately. Tv programs of all types and hearing his voice in so many things. It’s hard to imagine him being unwell as I thought he was still doing so much and had much more to come.


  4. He was in a great sketch on Black Comedy. He played an Aboriginal tracker in a Bunnings/Masters type hardware store to help people find what they’re looking for. He and the person he’s helping come across the skeleton of someone who tried to do it themselves. They find what they’re looking for and Uncle Jack asks for payment. The man refuses so Uncle Jack leaves him there and he has to find his own way to the checkout

    Rest In Power Uncle Jack

    1. haha sounds like a classic, i don’t recall that one but did enjoy the episodes of Black Comedy i saw, not as many as the seasons went on. I will have to look through some more episodes (heads up, i found they currently have all seasons on Iview.)

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