Vale Uncle Jack Charles

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Uncle Jack Charles on stage against black backdrop
Photo: Ross Green

Yarra City Council is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of national treasure, storyteller, award-winning actor, musician, potter and Aboriginal elder, Uncle Jack Charles.

The Boon Wurrang, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta man and member of the Stolen Generations was made a ward of the state and grew up in orphanages and foster care in Melbourne. When he was 17, Uncle Jack went to Fitzroy, where he met some of his other Aboriginal family members for the first time.

Uncle Jack became a prolific actor, going on to co-found Australia’s first Indigenous theatre group, Nindethana at Melbourne’s Pram Factory in the 1970s. He appeared in many films, most notably The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. 

This year, Uncle Jack made history by being the first Aboriginal Elder to speak at the Victorian Truth Telling Commission.

Uncle Jack was an active and revered member of the Yarra community, regularly visiting the Friends of the Earth and the Collingwood Yards. He also supported Yarra City Council on many projects including the Stolen Generations marker. More recently in July, Uncle Jack hosted ‘A Night with Uncle Jack Charles’ at Yarra’s Leaps and Bounds Festival.

Yarra Mayor, Cr Sophie Wade said Uncle Jack made an important contribution to life in Yarra, to the culture and to its people. 

“Many of us in Yarra were familiar with Uncle Jack Charles’ irrepressible spirit, talent and zest for life,” she said.

“Uncle Jack was a beloved, joyful and mischievous presence who will be greatly missed.”

Council extends its deepest condolences to Uncle Jack’s family, friends, the Aboriginal community and all other people impacted by his loss during this difficult time.


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