Uncle Jack Charles

A trailblazer, a truth-teller and an incredible artist – today we’ve lost a great Australian.

A Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta man – Jack Charles

was a beloved and respected elder, gifted actor, musician and potter.

His familiar face, remarkable voice and dry sense of humour have been a mainstay for

decades now.

A trailblazer for First Nations artists, Jack helped found Australia’s first Indigenous

theatre company – Nindethana Theatre – in the 1970s at Melbourne’s Pram Factory.

His life was also one of struggle, punctuated by dislocation, abuse, addiction and


Despite those setbacks Uncle Jack was a fierce advocate of equality, respect and truthtelling,

as well as a champion of the next generation of First Nations artists.

I know the impact of that will be felt for years to come.

I’m so pleased that in his later years Uncle Jack received the recognition he deserved.

He was the first First Nations recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at Victoria’s

Green Room Awards in 2014.

In 2019 he was awarded the Red Ochre Award – honouring outstanding First Nations

artists for lifetime achievement.

This year Uncle Jack was awarded NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year – recognising his

lifetime of activism, art and advocacy.

My thoughts today are with his family and loves ones.