Senator HENDERSON (Victoria) (12:47): I join with my fellow senators in honouring the life of Archie Roach AM. In doing so, I acknowledge that his family has given all of us permission to say his name and to celebrate his life. I want to acknowledge the other, very fine contributions in the chamber today, including from Indigenous senators, and I particularly want to acknowledge the very deep friendship that Archie Roach and Senator Dodson shared.

I’m also speaking as the shadow minister representing the shadow minister for the arts in this place, and few Indigenous Australians have made a greater contribution to Australian music than Archie Roach. In the words of his great friend, the late English actor Pete Postlethwaite:

Archie, a “stolen child” himself, is one of the finest artists of his generation, and a guiding light for the indigenous struggle for recognition and reconciliation. He’s been called the Aboriginal William Blake … His music sticks in the soul. It gets deep inside you. These songs are a reaffirmation of identity, country, beliefs and spirit, and as Archie himself says, “they’re about how no one listened to our recommendations on stolen kids or people dying in jails. And so it continues … but we are still watching and constantly taking note.”

Archie Roach’s music sticks, and will continue to stick, in the soul of Australians. It was his music which helped him to survive the trauma of being forcibly removed from his family at the age of two. Through music he was able to forgive and heal. He said, ‘I believe in redemption and I believe in forgiveness, both important aspects of love, because I’ve … experienced both.’

Archie Roach was a wonderful musician, a wonderful artist and an incredible storyteller. He was also a very significant mentor, including to others who had suffered from the impacts of alcohol. He died far too young, at only 66 years of age, but his music will live on in the hearts and souls of all Australians. I offer my heartfelt condolences to all of Archie’s colleagues and friends and, of course to his entire family, especially Amos and Eban, Archie’s sons; and Kriss, Arthur and Terrence, Archie’s foster children. May he rest in peace.

Categories: Speeches