Australian Actor, writer, Aboriginal elder, former heroin addict, thief and prison inmate, Uncle Jack Charles has finally been allowed into prisons as a mentor to indigenous inmates and shares his inspiring journey. At the end of this short talk, Uncle Jack Charles is joined by Aboriginal elder and musician, Archie Roach for a performance of the song, We Won’t Cry.
Uncle Jack Charles is an actor, musician, potter and gifted performer, but in his 73 years he has also been homeless, a heroin addict, a thief and a regular in Victoria’s prisons. A member of the Stolen Generation, Jack has spent his life in between acting gigs, caught in the addiction/crime/doing time cycle. Today — no longer caught in the cycle — he lives to tell the extraordinary tale.
Acknowledged as the grandfather of Aboriginal theatre in Australia, Uncle Jack co-founded the first Aboriginal theatre company Nindethana in 1972. His acting career spans over six decades. Uncle Jack was the subject of Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s award-winning documentary Bastardy, and was awarded the prestigious Tudawali Award at the Message Sticks Festival in 2009, honouring his lifetime contribution to Indigenous media. He was also recipient of a Green Room Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
Uncle Jack made headlines in October last year when he was refused a taxi unless he paid the fare upfront, just moments after he was named Victorian Senior Australian of the Year for 2016.