13 September 2022

It is with heavy hearts that we farewell Uncle Jack Charles, who has passed away at age 79.

man wearing a crown smiling looking directly at camera

Loved and revered Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta man Jack Charles was a respected Elder, a creative leader and activist.

Known as Uncle Jack to many, his acting career spanned several decades and traversed theatre, film and television. He was also celebrated as a musician and potter.

Uncle Jack was instrumental in bringing the voice and stories of First Peoples to the stage and used his creative practice to share his own experiences as a survivor of the Stolen Generations.

In the early seventies he co-founded Nindethana, Melbourne’s first Aboriginal theatre group, the start of a lifelong career as a trailblazing theatre-maker, performer and storyteller.

For fifty years his many screen and theatre performances captivated audiences and received critical acclaim. His talent and magnetism saw him collaborate with fellow esteemed performers and work with creative and cultural organisations across Victoria, Australia and overseas.

From his long-running one-man show Jack Charles Vs The Crown, first presented by Ilbijerri Theatre at the 2010 Melbourne Festival; to his countless television roles including ABC productions Preppers and Cleverman, SBS series Who Do You Think You Are? and the TV adaptation of Wolf Creek (Stan); to the poignant and candid documentary about his life Bastardy, Uncle Jack was both prolific and legendary.

Uncle Jack Charles shared his personal stories with great feeling, humility and humour, making him a much-loved icon here in Victoria, across the country and around the world.

In 2016 he was named Senior Victorian Australian of the Year and received the accolade of NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year in 2022.

Earlier this year Uncle Jack Charles was the first to share his Stolen Generations survival story as part of Victoria’s formal truth-telling process, Yoorrook Justice Commission.

He also worked with the late Uncle Archie Roach to support Aboriginal prisoners.

We send our condolences to those he loved, and to the many who loved him in return.

Vale, Uncle Jack Charles.