2021 — 9 speeches
Uncle Jack Charles
One of the nation's most respected and enduring actors, Uncle Jack Charles is a member of Australia's Stolen Generation. Removed from his mother as a baby and raised in a Salvation Army boys' home, Uncle Jack knew nothing of his Aboriginal heritage as a child. At 19 he began a career as an actor, but his life was plagued by personal demons. His addiction to heroin and a life of crime saw him jailed.
Despite his struggles, Uncle Jack co-founded Australia's first Indigenous theatre group, Nindethana, meaning 'place of corroboree', at Melbourne's Pram Factory in 1971. His first play, Jack Charles Is Up and Fighting, was a runaway hit.
Uncle Jack has starred in several movies, including the landmark film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) and the Warner Bros blockbuster Pan (2015), alongside Hugh Jackman. He has toured his own one-man stage show locally and internationally.
Now calm and centred, Uncle Jack Charles is a strong role model for a new generation of Australians.